Does Hinduism exist?

Is ‘Hinduism’ a ‘religion’? dharma, transcendence and the ‘human sciences’

Is Hindutva a ‘legitimate’ expression of ‘Hinduism’? Religion, nationalism and the ‘secular’ Indian state

Future of Hindu-Christian relations: a Dialogue about dialogue!


Alfred Collins

Al Collins is a clinical psychologist by day who wears out his mental dancing shoes at night reading Sanskrit and psychoanalysis and writing about the wonders he finds there. His Indology Ph.D. at Texas (with Rao, Lehman, Polome, and Katre) was on the origins of the classical Brahman (e.g., purohita) - King relationship. He was a friend, student, and teaching assistant of the novelist Raja Rao (The Serpent and the Rope, Kanthapura). Al and his wife Elaine have their website at www.BrainDance.us. His occasional blog is at www.naham.blogspot.com. Perhaps the best way to get to know him would be through his recent Dharmamegha paper below on Indian culture theory as he is beginning to see it.

Al has been a member of the Abhinavagupta forum since 09 Sep 2007, and became an active contributor to the discussions in March 2009 with his post on the DANAM/AAR panel he was putting together on "Perspectives of traditional Indian culture theory on contemporary media cultures."

Alvaro Enterria

Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1953, Alvaro Enterría, 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 Índica Books imprint in Benares.

Indica Books (publishing-house and bookshop in Benares)

The bookshop threw its doors open to the public on 3rd November 1994, the day of Diwali, the Hindu "Festival of Lights." Situated in the heart of the city, this bookshop consists, after a recent expansion, of two stories and specializes in Indology. It boasts of ample sections devoted to Hinduism, Buddhism, Tantra, Yoga, philosophy, art and music, Ayurveda, astrology, etc. Although the majority of the books are in English, it also has sections in Sanskrit and Hindi, as well as others in Spanish, French and other languages. Índica Books regularly publishes books in English, Hindi and Sanskrit for the Indian market on themes of Indian culture and philosophy, as well as on the city of Benares. In collaboration first with Etnos, and presently with the publisher Olańeta, Palma de Mallorca, Índica Books also publishes books in Spanish on Indian themes. The Indica Books website (www.indicabooks.com) has a wide offering of India-related books in English and Spanish, as well as sections on culture, photography, travel, etc.

Antoine Soucé Pitchaya

Antonio de Nicolas

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 Avatâra: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gîtâ and Meditations Through the Rig Veda,  both 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 ElegiesOf 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."

 A world of rapid experience ...traveler, poet, author

Ashok Chowgule

Having finished school in India, Ashok Chowgule went to the UK in Jan 1965 to do his Cambridge Advanced level (pre-university) examinations and then to graduate in Economics. Later he went to the USA to take up business studies. Upon completion, he joined the family business (iron ore mining, ship building, shipping, industrial explosives, etc.) in Goa. Subsequently, in 1980, he moved to Mumbai to look after a cement plant, primarily promoted by the family. This plant was sold in 1999, and since then Ashok Chowgule is in Goa looking after the ship building unit.

Being aware of the need to contribute to the socio-political development in India, he has taken keen interests in the current affairs of India. However, he was disenchanted with the way things were happening, particularly after the failure of Shri Rajiv Gandhi to live up to the promises of his early days in politics. In search of an alternative, he came across some leaders of the Sangh Parivar (family of organizations seeking to mobilize Hindus towards social reform). During the initial interactions, he felt that solutions to the problems confronting the country could be found within the parameters of Hindutva. It was in this context that he read Dr. Koenraad Elst's book Ayodhya and After, which cleared many of the issues that he found puzzling. He was now able to see how the intellectuals in India were perverting the debate within society. Right from the beginning of his contact with the Sangh Parivar, he decided to work for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and is passionate about the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which he sees as one that transcends the mere bricks and mortar angle. He is presently the President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for Maharashtra, and has contributed many articles to present the VHP perspective in many matters.

This article was originally published in The Organiser, January 3rd, 1994.

Dialogues: Hinduism a Religion?

Bharat Gupt

Currently Associate Professor of English, College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi, Bharat Gupt was born in 1946 in Moradabad but went to school in Delhi, where he studied English, Hindi, Sanskrit and philosophy. He spent a year in the US at the end of Counter-Cultural days and took a Master's degree from Toronto. He learnt to play the sitar and surbahar under the eminent musician Uma Shankar Mishra and studied musicology, yoga sutras and classics under Acarya Brihaspati and Swami Kripalvananda. Trained both in modern European and traditional Indian educational systems, he has worked in classical studies, theatre, music, culture and media studies and researched as Senior Onassis Fellow in Greece on revival of ancient Greek theatre. On the visiting faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi and the Bhartendu Academy for Dramatic Arts , Lucknow, Bharat has lectured on theatre and music at various Universities in India, North America and Greece His practical involvement with traditional Indian temple architecture resulted in initiating the construction of a "nagar style" stone temple with carvings which will give Delhi a traditional temple after a millennium. His published books are: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994) and Natyashastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996). I write for research journals and national newspapers also on cultural and educational issues. His forthcoming books are: (1) Natyasastra, Chapter 17: A Critique of Theatrical Polyglossia, (2) Natyasastra Chapters 29-36 , Trans. into Hindi, (3) Dibbuk Ki Prem Katha, a translation into Hindi of Anskey's Dibbuk. (4) Modern Greek Productions of Ancient Greek Plays, and (5) the first Edition of the Sanskrit-English-Greek Dictionary of Demitrios Galanos, the eighteenth century Greek Indologist, and (6) India: A Cultural Decline or Revival.

Carl Vadivelle Belle

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.

British ideologies of Empire and modern Tamil identity (2003-04)

This talk, that Carl gave during his visit to Malaysia/Singapore in February 2004 for his 13th participation in Thaipusam, is based on a 80-page essay derived from doctoral work

Review of Elizabeth Fuller Collins, Pierced by Murugan’s Lance

Originally written for a Melbourne-based journal, this review of Ritual Power and Moral Redemption among Malaysian Hindus was blocked by an academic (apparently close to Collins) on the editorial panel, who had once written that kavadi worship was no part of the Murugan tradition and was unknown in India! For a more thorough debunking of an even worse "run away" example of "wild (psycho-) analysis," see Kali's Child Revisited or Didn't Anyone Check the Documentation? by Swami Tyagananda

Thai Pusam in Malaysia - (First International Conference on Skanda-Murukan) - abstract

Carlos Aramayo

I was born and still live in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. I think my life was linked to India from the beginning, when I saw  in one of my children magazines–I was four years old then–a wheel with the picture of a seated man: it was the Buddha turning the Wheel of Dharma. As a teenager, I was a fan of yoga, trying to perform the postures (âsana) as best I could in search of health. Then, I discovered Krishna, the Bhagavad Gita, and devotion to God. Many years later after an abortive career in electronic engineering, I studied history here in La Paz. I was practicing Buddhist meditation in my courtyard and suddenly the thought came to me: " Why don't you study History?" I left mathematics aside for social science. I was fortunate in my new career where I won recognition three times as the best student of History at the University of San Andrés: the first was the Guido Capra Award for Excellence, the next from the Honorable Facultative Council on Humanities, and then the Honor's Diploma from the Major University of San Andrés. Currently working on my thesis on Buddhism in Bolivia towards a B. A. degree,  I am writing on the web, researching articles, and discussing in cyber-forums my passion: India.

Interview with Peter Brunhardt(Vipassana coordinator in Bolivia)

Chitra Raman

Chitra, who could say of herself: “I am, therefore I write,” began writing poetry and reflective soliloquies between the ages of 7 and 10. At age 12, when still a seventh grader in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, she won first prize in a national essay-writing contest. A year later, she moved to Delhi when her father obtained a posting there. Her reticence for public speaking is matched by her passion for the assumed role.  Chitra’s  adventures on the Delhi stage began with a school adaptation of the musical “The King and I” which landed her radio interviews with the BBC and the Voice of America.  She subsequently acted in several plays with the theater groups Yatrik and Masque. Chitra immigrated to the United States in 1985, bringing with her seven years of professional writing experience. Her lovely and musically talented daughter Divya was born on Valentines Day, 1991. That year, Chitra enrolled in Wayne State University for a second Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Though her life turned into uncharted waters when Divya was diagnosed with autism in 1993, she graduated with honors.  She resolved to focus like a laser on helping her daughter overcome her limitations, and to continue to write freelance. Chitra’s writings span fundraising proposals, articles on special education topics, poetry, book reviews, opinion editorials, satire, children’s stories, research papers, and reflective essays. She serves on a strategic planning committee formed to advise the Michigan State Department of Education of best practices for the education of children on the Autism spectrum.  She also works on an ongoing basis with her local school district on adapting the science curriculum for different learners. See Chitra's unabridged autobiographical note).

 The Price of Looking Away - on the Tsunami (India Abroad, January 2005)

Commentary; India Abroad; January 21, 2005, Pg. A22.

Review of Maggi Lidchi-Grassi, The Great Golden Age of the Mahâbhârata

The Battle of Kurukshetra; The Legs of the Tortoise. By Maggi Lidchi-Grassi. Roli Books, 1996, pp. 368 and 350. See also the book review by Pradip Bhattacharya.

 Transcending Culture: Indian and Western Ideas of Feminism (July 10, 2004)

Samvad: The IndDiaspora Experience, World Association for Vedic Studies Fifth International Conference, July 9-11, 2004 "India’s Intellectual Traditions in Contemporary Global Context". Chitra's feminism paper was presented as part of a symposium on the e-group IndDiaspora. As such, it embeds exchanges from that e-group within the larger universe of issues covered by the paper. The symposium featured other presentations including the IndDiaspora debate on Dowry by Dr. Beloo Mehra,  Hindu-American Identity by Aditi Banerjee, and a talk about how the concept of IndDiaspora took shape, by founder Harsh Verma. Symposium details, Appendix 1: "My Distant Aunt…and I" by Jayshree Misra Tripathi; Appendix 2: "Silence" by Anasuya Sengupta, Appendix 3: "Moving Beyond Words" by Gloria Steinem.

 Antonia Maury - [written before 2004]

Written originally for Thomson Gale "years ago," bits and pieces of the information in this article were pulled out and plugged it into different online products. The essay has been published for the first time in its pristine form here

David Dubois

David Peter Lawrence

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.

Dileep Karanth

Foreword to Danger! Educated Gypsy: Selected Essays by Ian Hancock (November 2010)

Ian Hancock, Danger! Educated Gypsy: Selected Essays, edited by Dileep Karanth (University Of Hertfordshire Press, 01 November 2010), 288 pages. ISBN-10: 1902806999, ISBN-13: 978-1902806990.
"My teacher, Professor Ian F. Hancock, is an unusual man: unusual in his background, in the breadth of his interests and in the range of his accomplishments. He was the first Gypsy to be awarded a doctorate in the UK; he is perhaps the only person to hold three doctorates without having finished high school. His book The Pariah Syndrome – the first to document the enslavement of Roma in Europe – came as a revelation to those who were accustomed to think of slavery as an institution restricted in modern times only to Europe’ colonies. Another of his books, We Are the Romani People, also the first of its kind, has become an authoritative source for teachers who wish to present the Romani self-statement to their students. Author of over 350 publications, esteemed teacher to generations of students and tireless spokesman for the Romani peoples of the world, Ian has achieved much fame and even some notoriety in his eventful lifetime. This collection of select writings is an attempt to introduce this dangerously educated and educating man through the medium of his work. Within its covers you will find poetry and song, stories and scholarship, bitter criticisms and friendly advice."

Hindu-Buddhist Conflict in the Chachnama: Fact or Fiction? (2008)

Dileep Karanth, "Hindu-Buddhist Conflict in the Chachnama: Fact or Fiction?" History Today (Journal of History and Historical Archaeology) No. 9, 2008, pp. 49-52

Amir Khusrau's Contributions to Indian Music: a preliminary survey (2008)

Amir Khusrau's Contributions to Indian Music: A Preliminary Survey by Dileep Karanth Sangeet Natak, Vol. XLII, Number 4, 2008, pages 3-14. Sangeet Natak is a journal of music, dance and drama published since 1965 by Sangeet Natak Akademi -- the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama.

Caste in Medieval India: The Beginnings of a Reexamination (2003-2004)

 The Unity of India (2003-2004)

Félix Ilarráz

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. Félix 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, Félix 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, Félix 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.

The Castes of India - published in Spanish in the Sarasvati journal

Introduction to book on Indian Philosophy (with Oscar Pujol Riembau)

Francesco Brighenti

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 Shâktism," will appear soon in Breaking Boundaries with the Goddess: New Directions in the Study of Shâktism. 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.

 Shamanistic echoes in rituals of Hindu Devotional Ordeals  (2003)

Another line of research pursued by Francesco is the rootedness in older shamanistic practices of some 'low' Hindu cult practices, viz. Shaiva/Shâkta devotional ordeals such as fire-walking, hook-swinging, cheek-piercing, walking or swinging on thorns or nails, the transport of kâvadi, etc., are discussed in this still unpublished essay in Italian (that he has translated here for svAbhinava). The likely Hindu mythical archetypes of such ritual ordeals are also touched upon in this essay.

 Buffalo Sacrifice and tribal mortuary rituals  (2003)

An extract from Francesco's second essay, written in Italian and still unpublished, that discusses the sacrifices of bovines (especially water-buffaloes) performed by a large number of tribal populations of South and Southeast Asia in connection with their respective mortuary ceremonies.

Ritual Stealing of Sacrificial Buffalo’s Flesh among Kondhs of Orissa

Aryan Invasion (AIT) versus Out-of-India (OIT) Theories  (2003)

The conclusions of the AIT/OIT debate—provided they are accepted as incontrovertible by the vast majority of scholars—will no doubt serve as the basis for new directions in Indological studies in the 21st century. To confront the contrasting opinions expressed by scholars in the course of this crucial debate, Francesco collected a huge database of e-books, e-articles and messages posted at Internet forums, that has now been kindly placed at the disposal of anyone attempting to form their own opinion. I received this web-directory on 10 Nov. 2003 and posted it the following day.

Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam Sen has taught international political economy to graduate students for two decades at the London School of Economics & Political Science. He has published widely on the political economy of development, international trade issues, defence economics and India in scholarly journals as well as newspapers, including the London Times, Economic and Political Weekly, The Pioneer and The Indian Express.  He has recently co-authored a book on trade, money and investment and is now working on a study of how some societies come to be dominated by more successful ones. He was born in Varanasi, grew up in Calcutta and has lived in England for the past 35 years. Dr. Sen has been an adviser to the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal and is a member of the eminent person’s group of the Indo-UK Roundtable. "Apart from being born there my personal connections with Benares are a little sporadic because we left to live in Calcutta very soon afterwards. But I did visit regularly, including a particularly memorable trip when I ran away to the city as a 14 year-old schoolboy. Having caught a train from Howrah [Calcutta railway station] I spent an enchanting fortnight (living with my grandmother In Jangambari) roaming the streets and ghats freely, visiting ancient (mainly religious) sites and rowing across the Ganges single-handedly every other day. I can't imagine how I dared hire a boat and engage in this risky activity! My father graduated with a degree in metallurgy from BHU in the early 1940s when Radhakrishnan was vice chancellor. Most people don't know that BHU was the premier institution of India for engineering and some science subjects before independence. It was very hard to gain admission into BHU in the 1930s and hardly 25% survived my father's cohort into the second year because the maths was too demanding! My grandfather-in-law, the late Raj Guru Hem Raj Pandey of Nepal, a renowned Sanskrit scholar, also had strong ties with Benares (with a majestic house in the city), which is where his books are still available, rather than in Nepal."

 Academic researchers versus Hindu civilization [June 2004]

 Post-reform China and the international economy (2001)

 Indian power and the threat to the world (Sep 2000)

 The trouble with Third World leftists (12 March 1997, The Indian Express)

 Triumph of the outsider (10 February 1997, The Indian Express)

 Dinesh Chandra Sen on Tantric practices (Temples of Birbhum)

Dr. (Rai Bahadur) Dinesh Chandra Sen, Gautam's great grandfather, donated his extraordinary collection of books and vast hoard of original ancient manuscripts to the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (his own books and manuscripts formed a significant collection within it). It was he who built up the Department of Bengali Language and Literature of the University of Calcutta.  The section on tantric practices, while describing the Temples of Birbhum, is from Dinesh Chandra's two-volume History of Bengali Language and Literature (Eng. 1911; Bengali 1898; cf. pp. 8-9 ). Gautam recently heard that books and manuscripts from the collection were being sold for a few rupees on the footpath outside—the establishment is under the control of communist trade unions.

Ian Whicher

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.

 Countering World Negation: World Affirming & Integrative Dimension of Classical Yoga [2002]

This paper, presented to the Indic Colloquium (2002), challenges interpretations of Yoga that have misrepresented Patanjali's philosophical outlook as being radically dualistic, isolationistic, and world-denying. Drawing from classical texts, it will be argued that Yoga is a balanced integration of the spiritual and material dimensions of life/self. Yoga does not advocate the abandonment or condemnation of the world but rather supports a stance that enables one to live more fully in the world without being enslaved by worldly identification. Yoga can be seen thus to incorporate a clarity of awareness with the integrity of being and action. The final version has been published in Evam 3:1 & 2 (2004), pp.38-54.

Jacqueline and Roland Bouchet

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 Étrangčres) 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.

Review of Belles Étrangčres visit by 20 Indian writers to Paris (2002)

Though received from Jacqueline on 1st Jan 2003 and immediately translated from French into English, Sunthar got around to posting the above review to the Abhinavagupta (and other related) forum(s) only 21 Sep 2003 (for the reasons explained in the post). See also Sunthar's first review of 9 Dec 2002, entitled "Multiculturalism, caste, universalism and the survival of communal diversity: a belated Indian Thanksgiving," that centers primarily on the exchanges during the 'study-day' on 25 Nov 2002 at the Sorbonne. Before forming your own assessment, do read the review by Vaiju Niravane (7 Dec 02), who chaired the afternoon session at the Sorbonne, and the 'rejoinder' of sorts by Shashi Tharoor (8 Dec 02), both of which were published in The Hindu. Jacqueline is currently working on an expanded version of her own review.

Thus went the children of Zarathustra (book-review - 2003)

This review appeared in issue no. 28-29 of "The CIDIF Letter"

Identity, multiculturalism, and laicism

Jacques Vigne

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 Sarasvatî 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.

 Visit Jacques' home page (articles in English and French)

Jakob De Roover

Jakob De Roover is a post-doctoral fellow at the Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap of Ghent University. The focus of this center is the elaboration of the research program developed by its director, Prof. S.N. Balagangadhara (Balu). After spending a year studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the secularism debate in India began to fascinate Jakob: Given the fact that Indian society has been more plural throughout its history than the West has ever been, why do Indian intellectuals today plead for the adoption of Western-style secularism? Research into this issue has resulted in a PhD dissertation on the historical emergence of tolerance in Western culture and the role of the Christian religion in this process. Jakob continues to work in Balu's research program, which shows that (1) the human sciences have so far taken place within the Christian religious framework of the Western culture, (2) the dominant understanding of the Asian and Indian cultures is constrained by the same framework, (3) alternative theorizing will give access to the treasure house of knowledge about the human being contained in the Asian traditions, and (4) it will give a novel perspective on the nature of Western culture which overturns its self-understanding.

Secularism, Colonialism and the Indian Intellectuals 

This text had been put up earlier on the India Forum website.

The Vacuity of Secularism: On the Indian Debate and Its Western Origins (Sep 2002)

Jakob's contribution to the secularism debate was published as a special article in the Economic and Political Weekly (28 September 2002).

Dialogues: Hinduism a Religion? does it exist?

Jayant R. Kalawar

Jayant Kalawar has been (more of a lurker than) a participant since 6th January 2002 in our Abhinavagupta forum. He used to post on Indictraditions and his posting on shared soteriology had caught my attention and led me to invite him to join. A management consultant by profession, Jayant, over the last 30 years, has had opportunities to consult with American companies all over the USA. His perspectives, based on intense consulting engagements and interacting with very diverse groups of people, on Boston brahmins, unrepentant Richmond confederates, Salt Lake city Mormons, Oklahoma conservatives, Philadelphia Quakers and Hawaiian Asian-Americans have egged him on to think about what he calls the American puzzle. Jayant wants to write, as a diasporal insider, about how Americans see themselves and what drives them to develop certain kinds of relationships with the rest of the world. He also expects to write about how Indians look towards and relate to America. His draft essay on Role of Religion in US-India Relationship is posted on svAbhinava. Jayant is also currently working on an essay titled A Tale of Two Indians: Argumentative and Untouchable.

Jeffery D. Long

Jeffery D. Long is Associate Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown College, in Pennsylvania, USA. Jeff has published several works on Hinduism and Hindu identity. He helped organize 6th DĀNAM Conference in 2008; where he was responsible for the Book Review: Review of Yoga Books and The 'H-Word': Non-Indian Practitioners and the Question of Hindu Identity sessions, and also presented on Hindu-To Be or Not To Be: Three Possible Reasons for Aversion to the Term 'Hindu' among Western Practitioners. He has also spoken at the Association for Asian Studies, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and the American Academy of Religion. He has authored two books, A Vision of Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism and Jainism: An Introduction. He has published articles in Prabuddha Bharata, The Journal of Religion, Science and Spirit, and Creative Transformation, among others. Long also contributed to the Hindu American Foundation's "Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus", writing that even "[t]hough it is less well-known in [the United States], anti-Hindu bigotry is every bit as ugly and dangerous as anti-Semitism or racism, and every bit as present on the Internet. [adapted from Wikipedia entry]

Jainism: An Introduction (published 07 July 2009, at Amazon.com)

Published by I.B. Taurus (07 July 2007), 272 pages. [ISBN-10: 1845116267; ISBN-13: 978-1845116262. "Jainism evokes images of monks wearing face-masks to protect insects and mico-organisms from being inhaled. Or of Jains sweeping the ground in front of them to ensure that living creatures are not inadvertently crushed: a practice of non-violence so radical as to defy easy comprehension. Yet for all its apparent exoticism, Jainism is still little understood in the West. "What is this mysterious philosophy which originated in the 6th century BCE, whose absolute requirement is vegetarianism, and which now commands a following of four million adherents both in its native India and diaspora communities across the globe? In his welcome new treatment of the Jain religion, Long makes an ancient tradition fully intelligible to the modern reader. Plunging back more than two and a half millennia, to the plains of northern India and the life of a prince who--much like the Buddha--gave up a life of luxury to pursue enlightenment, Long traces the history of the Jain community from founding sage Mahavira to the present day. He explores asceticism, worship, the life of the Jain layperson, relations between Jainism and other Indic traditions, the Jain philosophy of relativity, and the implications of Jain ideals for the contemporary world. The book presents Jainism in a way that is authentic and engaging to specialists and non-specialists alike."

"This highly readable book provides an excellent introduction to an ancient and complex tradition that predates the birth of the Buddha. The author skillfully explores Jain doctrines regarding the nature of the soul and the observance of nonviolence, placing Jainism within the context of Hinduism and Buddhism. He also highlights the influence that Jainism had upon the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. The book corrects misperceptions that have characterized Jain ethics as extreme, and discusses how Jainism is being practiced globally, including in the US heartland."--Christopher Key Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

"Jeffery Long’s book admirably accomplishes two goals. The first half of Jainism: An Introduction does exactly what his subtitle indicates. Long provides a succinct and accurate overview of the history, beliefs and practices of the Jains that draws in an excellent manner upon the most recent scholarship. The second half of the book - in a fine example of the practice of comparative theology and comparative philosophy of religion - moves beyond description to engage with what Jainism has to say to anyone living on Planet Earth in the twenty-first century. In particular, Long is concerned to explore what the Jain philosophical doctrines of "relativity" can contribute to the pressing problem of how people respond to the fact of profound religious diversity. Jainism: An Introduction will therefore be of interest to anyone interested in the global religious history of humanity, and additionally to anyone striving to construct a morally responsible stance on how humans can learn to live together in all their religious differences. The book will also be a fine choice for undergraduate students in a variety of fields, including religious studies, south Asian studies, the history of religion and comparative philosophy."--John Cort, Professor of Asian and Comparative Religions, Denison University, and author of Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India

Truth, diversity, and the incomplete project of modern Hinduism

Published in Rita D. Sherma and Arvind Sharma, eds., Hermeneutics and Hindu Thought: Towards a Fusion of Horizons (Springer Netherlands, posted 21 May 2008), pp.179-209 [ISBN: 978-1-4020-8191-0 (Print) 978-1-4020-8192-7 (Online)].

A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism (published Jan 2007, at Amazon.com)

Published by I.B. Taurus (23 Jan 2007), 275 pages. [ISBN-10: 1845112733; ISBN-13: 978-1845112738. "Two radically different ideologies are currently competing for the loyalties of the Hindu community. One of these ideologies, Hindu nationalism, conceives of Hinduness as co-extensive with Indianness. The other ideology, which has been articulated by such figures as Sri Ramakrishna and Mahatma Gandhi, represents Hinduism as the 'eternal' or 'universal' religion. This is an idea of Hinduism that is pluralistic and all-inclusive. Arguing that Hindu nationalism is not only destructive of communal relations, but that it also prevents Hinduism from emerging as a world religion in the true sense of the term, the author here explores a reconfigured version of the second of these two ideologies. He presents a vision of Hinduism as a tradition capable of pointing the way towards a future in which all the world's religions manifest complementary visions of a larger reality - and in which they all, in various ways, participate. This radical religious agenda puts a new and exciting perspective on Hindu and South Asian studies alike."

Karine Ladrech

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 Kristčle) 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 (Vajrayâna) Buddhism.

 The club-wielding Bhairava (Bhairava ŕ la massue) - 2002

A rather unusual iconographic type in Indian sculpture, met with in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, shows the god Bhairava furnished with a big club held downwards. This attribute is more specifically associated with another form of Śiva, Lakulīśa, considered by some to be an avatāra of Śiva and regarded as a divine guru by Śaivites like Pāśupatas and Kālāmukhas. In Andhra Pradesh, where we find the earliest known images of Bhairava with this club, we can notice some iconographic confusion between Bhairava and Lakulīśa. In Tamil Nadu – where we hardly meet any Lakulīśa sculpture – images of this club-handed Bhairava were carved from the Cola period onwards. A new iconographic form, called CaTTainātar, was then conceived in the Tamil land. Holding the club in one hand and displaying the teaching gesture with the other, it shows Bhairava as a god who, at one and the same time, punishes and teaches, who – just as Lakulīśa who holds his club to preach the Śaivite faith – is the guardian of śivadharma and the divine guru showing men the path to salvation. [published in French in the Bulletin d’Études Indiennes, 2002, n°20.1, p. 163-192 (http://www.math-info.univ-paris5.fr/afei/).]  

Koenraad Elst

Lakshmi Bandlamudi

Makarand Paranjape

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.

 The official Makarand Paranjape website (notes)

 Essays |  Poems | Academic Papers (notes)

 Evam - Forum on Indian Representations (notes)

 Samvad India  Foundation - committed to dialogue (notes)

 Report on India-China cultural exchange (9th - 16th March 2001)

Mary Searle-Chatterjee

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 Ghâzî Miyă 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 François Chenet.

Islamicization in a Globalizing Context [1994] - English

This paper was published under the title "'Wahabi' sectarianism among the Muslims of Banaras" in Contemporary South Asia (1994), 3(2), 83-93. 9/11 of the year 2001 has revealed the tremendous politico-cultural significance of Wahabism not just for Islam but for the entire world. Mary visited us at the Multiflat Guest House at BHU in 1986 while researching this paper.

McKim Marriott

McKim Marriott (PhD, U Chicago 1955) was Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the Dept. of Anthropology till he retired in June 1998. He has researched villagers and urbanites of India and professionals of both South Asia and Japan. Finding that Western categories often present obstacles to understanding peoples of these and other areas, he is constructing alternative social sciences for studying differing cultural realities, using formal modeling and simulations.

[Elizabeth and I were first introduced to Kim by our mutual friend Al Collins in June 2009. We subsequently met not only durin Al's regular visits to Chicago, but also at various, especially South Asia related, events at the University of Chicago. We regularly discuss not only Kim's ongoing theorizing of Sânkhya cosmology and its (continuing) relevance to Indian categories of thought, but also the work of related scholars. - Sunthar (webmaster and editor)]

Mukur K. Khisha

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.

A Defense of Hindu Revivalism [2001]

Though Hinduism has been able to assimilate--or at least accommodate--all previous religions domiciled in the Indian subcontinent, Islam has proved to be the intransigent exception, resulting in the creation of Pakistan. "What emerges in all clarity is the opposition between two worldviews with differing understandings of community, history and the sacred city. Permanent reconciliation between Hinduism and Islam will be achieved only when—by reducing the inner distance between Mecca and Banaras—the questions posed by (the mutilated stump of) the world-pillar—which still straddles the boundary between the two religions—are finally resolved" (concluding lines of Visuvalingam, "Hindu-Muslim Relations in Colonial Banaras"). [my comments to be added...]

Time and Again (new book - 2004)

Time and Again (Macmillan, India, 2004 - ISBN 1403 92248 9) contains "A reflection on the long and varied experience of the author as a career diplomat, and a record of his keen observation on the ways and philosophies of life in many parts of the world. The protagonist is Arindam Chakma, a Buddhist from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, now in Bangladesh. He reminisces his childhood colored by the myths and legends of the tribal folklore of the Chakmas. The tragedy and trauma of the partition of India in August, 1947 looms large and constantly in his mind. He identifies the root cause as a conflict of religions between Hinduism and Islam as distinct from a clash of civilizations."

Narsi Patel

  Indian Community at the Crossroads [2000]

 Pinch Yourself and Touch Someone  ()

 Burhwa Mangal  

Oscar Pujol Riembau

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 Nâtyam dancer, who did her arangetram in Delhi in 1999 . She regularly teaches Bharata Nâtyam 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 Abhinavabhâratî 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 Félix (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 Fundación Purusa.

 Sanskritvâni website on Banaras and Indian culture

Check out Oscar's Spanish Sanskritvânî  (http://sanskritvani.tripod.com) web-site, sponsored by the Spanish Embassy in India.

Pathmarajah Nagalingam

Pathma is a Hindu, following the Saiva Siddhânta path, specifically of the Nandinâtha lineage (hailing from Rishi Nandikeshvara, who is the guru of Tiruműlar), and adheres to the philosophy of monistic theism (advaita îshvarapada). Today, he considers Sivâya Subramaniyaswami who initiated him (dîkshâ), and his guru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, as his own.  Pathma, an ex-monk (of the Kauai Âdhînam, Hawaii) and a formally trained Hindu teacher, has been teaching for decades. In addition to ritual worship, chanting hymns in Tamil, Sanskrit, and meditating regularly, he spends eight hours a day in solitude (as tapas), socializing primarily with other meditators. He describes himself as a Hindu evangelist and today his work is more or less confined to some teaching, and writing short articles on Hinduism and on spirituality, most of which has been posted in the forum at www.siddha.com.my, his website dedicated to introducing the basic Hindu beliefs and practices through the various languages of the world (about 15 major languages of the world covering four billion people). He has also been an occultist, a mantravâdin (Tantric Shaivism), a bomoh (indigenous shamans of the Malay world), having studied for many years with teachers in India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia (although he no longer practices these). Born in 1956 and now married with two teenage daughters, Pathma is still a practicing certified public accountant and businessman living on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. He retired from martial arts, mountaineering, flying, and deep sea diving long ago.

Pedro Soto Adrados / Maria Orduńa Anunciación

Dońa MŞ Anunciación Orduńa Ferrero (Nunci) and Don Pedro Soto Adrados are the current President and Treasurer respectively of the Fundación 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 Félix Ilárraz, the Fundación 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 Fundación. 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 Sarasvatî journal by Jacques Vigne, Christian Bouchet, Elizabeth and myself (and more soon by other friends...).  Pedro introduced us (Félix, 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.

 Fundación Purusa  web-site and Sarasvati journal - Spanish

"The Purusha Foundation was created with the goal of vivifying diverse areas of knowledge such as Philosophy, Religion, Economics, Sociology, Art, Poetry, Classical Languages (Latin, Greek, Sanskrit), etc., that contribute in the measure possible to the individual's pursuit of a role conducive to a New Humanism. Meaning by the latter an intrinsic relation between human nature and reason as the supreme fount helping to discover his/her true nature and all this in conformity with his/her personality. Wanting to emphasize at the same time the highest values represented by historical and traditional culture, both Eastern and Western, whose spiritual riches and profundity is unlimited. This is the sole and transcendental objective pursued by the Foundation, which has been constituted under the protectorate of the (Spanish) Ministry of Education and Culture, and whose vehicle of expression is the annual publication of a journal of knowledge named SARASVATI."

Peter Heehs

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.

 Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes & Problems in Indian Historiography (2003)

Published in History and Theory 42 (May 2003), pp.169-195 © Wesleyan University 2003 ISSN: 0018-2656. "I distinguish six different styles of colonial and postcolonial discourse about India (heuristic categories, not essential types), and note the existence of numerous precolonial discourses. The thought of the early-twentieth-century writer Sri Aurobindo took form in a colonial framework and has been used in various ways by postcolonial writers. An anti-British nationalist, he was by no means complicit in British imperialism. Neither can it be said, as some Saidians do, that the nationalist style of Orientalism was just an imitative indigenous reversal of European discourse, using terms like “Hinduism” that had been invented by Europeans. Five problems that Aurobindo dealt with are still of interest to historians: the significance of the Vedas, the date of the Vedic texts, the Aryan invasion theory, the Aryan-Dravidian distinction and the idea that spirituality is the essence of India. His views on these topics have been criticized by Leftist and Saidian orientalists, and appropriated by reactionary “Hindutva” writers. Such critics concentrate on that portion of Aurobindo’s work that stands in opposition to or supports their own views. A more balanced approach to the nationalist Orientalism of Aurobindo and others would take account of their religious and political assumptions, but view their project as an attempt to create an alternative language of discourse. Although in need of criticism in the light of modern scholarship, their work offers a way to recognize cultural particularity while keeping the channels of intercultural dialogue open." (Abstract)

Radhakrishna Warrier

Radhakrishna Warrier is by profession an electronics communication engineer.  Besides science and technology, his interest spans languages, history, religion, philosophy, anthropology, and civilizations.  But he hasn’t proceeded to any level beyond that of an interested layman in these diverse subjects outside of his professional area of expertise.  Having little time to read and research, the Internet has come as a great boon, for he has benefited immensely through his engagement in discussions in internet forums like the Abhinavagupta Yahoo! group.  Entertainment value aside, these intellectually stimulating exchanges have exposed him to new ideas, fresh knowledge, and diverse points of views. After having served his Indian motherland for about two decades in the capacity of scientist and engineer, the urge to travel got the better of him, and he set sail (figuratively) towards foreign lands.  After a brief stint in Middle East, he landed in North America where he continues to live with his wife and son, the ‘foreign’ land having eventually become his ‘own’ land. You can see a picture of Radha with wife Usha here. Radha's childhood environment till the age of 9 was mostly New Delhi, with Hindi as much a first language (along with a smattering of Punjabi) as his native Malayalam spoken at home.  Upon his father's transfer to Trivandrum in Kerala, he began rediscovering his roots, attending a Malayalam medium school where he excelled in all subjects, particularly in the written forms of his mother-tongue. His Hindi was quickly revived when as a young man he went to work in north India.  "Whatever Sanskrit I know is from mastering my mother tongue and through informal inputs from my mother, father, siblings, and teachers.  If my English is any good, it is also thanks to my mother and older sisters who took considerable pains to improve my command over the language."

"I belong to the ‘high’ end of the Ambalavâsî (temple resident) caste, whose traditional role was to assist the Nambudiri priest in performing the public worship, some specific tasks being bedecking the icon with flower garlands that we string together, preparing the naivedya (food that is offered to god) within the temple precincts adhering to all rules of ritual purity, and holding the lamp in the ritual 'pradakSiNa’ (circumambulation) around the temple associated with the pűjâ rituals.   The responsibility of temple administration also fell on my caste people.  The word ‘vAriyam’ in old Malayalam means an office and a ‘vAriyar’ is an office bearer, a head of a department.  Besides traditional temple duties, the Warriers (anglicized spelling of ‘vAriyar’) held important public portfolios under the kings’ rule.  They were ministers, advisors, and teachers to the kings (Râja guru).  They were well-read in Sanskrit and used to spend a good deal of their time indulging in literary activities in Sanskrit and Malayalam.  Warriers have authored authoritative works in Ayurveda (traditional medecine), astronomy / astrology and mathematics in both Sanskrit and Malayalam.  Like the Nambudiri ‘ashTavaidya-s’, there were eminent ‘âryavaidya-s’, Ayurvedic physicians, among Warriers.  We were (and continue to be) highly visible in society as a group of learned people although we form far less than 0.5% of the population of Kerala.  We had good ‘sarasvatî kaTâkSam’ (side-glance of the Goddess of Learning) but perhaps failed to gain enough attention of Lakshmi – we were never very rich, but fortunately most of us were not very poor either.  In short, my caste people placed great emphasis on learning and education and spared no efforts in educating their womenfolk.  The Vârasyâr-s (feminine of Vâriyar) too were as a rule proficient in Sanskrit and Malayalam to the extent of being fully able to appreciate and even actively participate in the literary and other intellectual pursuits of their husbands.  My great-grandmother was tutored in English at home. In Kerala, our caste was one of the earliest to take to English education and hence was open to progressive ideas from a very early time.  Our family was strongly traditional but we never clung to anachronistic ideas, superstitious beliefs and outdated rituals."


Rainer von Grafenhorst

Rainer hat seine Dissertation (als Dr. phil.) über das kosmographische System der PurâNas fertiggestellt, der im Verlag seines Doktorvaters Albrecht Wezler publiziert wurde. Das bedeutet nicht, daß ich meine Interessen am alten Indien ganz aufgegebn habe. Er schreibt seit einiger Zeit an einem Buch über „Wirtschaftsstruktur und Semantik im alten Indien“. Zur Zeit beschäftigt er sich mit dem „Haushalt der Hetäre“ bzw. mit dem Thema „Prostitution“. Meine Quellen sind dharma-, artha- und kâmashâstra-Quellen. Rainer halt Niklas Luhmann für den wichtigsten zeitgenössischen Soziologen und ist von seinem rigorosen Anspruch an saubere Theorie absolut überzeugt: nur sie historisches Material wirklich zum Sprechen bringen kann. Ich habe mich mit dieser Orientierung auch den indologischen Theorien entzogen, die mir früher einmal als besonders vielversprechend erschienen waren, ich erinnere mich an Dumont, Biardeau und vor allem Heesterman.

Rainer sought me out in ??? on his arrival in Benares at the recommendation of a friend (Prof. Peter Schreiner). He soon began to share my own interest in the work of René Guénon and Biardeau's anthropology of Hindu civilization. After returning to Europe in ???, Rainer move to Paris to study French Indology, particularly with Biardeau, and also got to know Elizabeth's family while we were visiting for the summer from Benares. In ???, I also met Rainer's  wife ???, when I visited him in Hamburg. He subsequently drove me to Berlin, where Elizabeth came to research Newar manuscripts on Bhairava at the Preussischer Staatsbibliothek. We got to know most of his family during this visit. Rainer then also took me to visit Tübingen, where I got to chat (in German!) with Prof. Heinrich von Stientencron,  pioneer in the iconographic study of the origin-myth of Bhairava, that had served as the starting point for Elizabeth's totalizing approach to the mythology of Bhairava in the light of transgressive sacrality. We unfortunately lost contact with Rainer after moving to the USA in late 1989.

Raja Mylvaganam

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. 

 The Holdeen Funds - chapter from thesis on the Unitarian-Universalists and India

Raja assures me that the references, footnotes, bibliography were thoroughly checked by a very competent professional librarian who taught the class. Over and above the religious aspect, it's fascinating to see how Benjamin Franklin's abhorrence of taxation (shared by other Founding Fathers...) became Jonathan Holdeen's life mission and the manner in which India's disinherited have been drawn into this vision...

 William Roberts - chapter on the Unitarian-Universalists and India

The Missionary Paradigm - chapter from thesis in progress on the Unitarian-Universalists and India

Rajiv Malhotra

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.

 Visit the Infinity Foundation homepage and the Mandala of Indic Traditions

 Read Rajiv's articles and  columns at Sulekha 

The common theme underlying most of these articles and columns are the representations of India, Hinduism in particular, in the United States (and by extension in the West), as reflected in and determining academic discourse, mass education, media stereotypes, foreign policy, etc. In the process, several of them also focus (at least in part) on the (often maligned) religious values enshrined in Indian traditions and the socio-political 'unconscious' of American 'multiculturalism'. In addition to the numerous un-moderated comments from Sulekha readers, several of these essays have been discussed on the Abhinava forum, either simultaneously (Ganesha, psychoanalysis, critique of history orientated religions, etc.) or subsequently (caste and racism).

RISA Lila - 2 - Limp Scholarship and Demonology (Nov 17, 2003) column

Problematizing God's Interventions in History (Mar 19, 2003) column

The Insider/Outsider Academic Game (Oct 25, 2002) article

RISA Lila - 1: Wendy's Child Syndrome (Sep 6, 2002) column

The Axis of Neocolonialism (Jul 10, 2002) column

America's Last Chance (Jun 8, 2002) column

A Business Model of Religion - 2 (Apr 24, 2002) column

Hinduism in American Classrooms (Mar 18, 2002) column

The Root of India-Pakistan Conflicts (Feb 11, 2002) column

CNN's Pakistan Bias (Jan 11, 2002) column

A Business Model of Religion - 1 (Dec 31, 2001) column

How 'Gandhara' became 'Kandahar' (Dec 17, 2001) column

The Asymmetric Dialog of Civilizations (Dec 3, 2001) column

Traditional Knowledge Systems (Nov 19, 2001) column

Gita on Fighting Terrorism (Nov 5, 2001) column

The American Guilt Syndrome (Oct 8, 2001) column

Indian Thought is Not Understood in America (Jul 27, 2001) article

The 'Western Only' Curriculum (Jun 22, 2001) article

Stereotyping Hinduism in American Education (Apr 11, 2001) article

Is There an American Caste System? (Jan 29, 2001) article

What is the political agenda behind American studies of South Asian Tantra (June 04)

Dialogue with the Forum of Indian Leftists (31 Dec 2003) 

Rajiv's open letter of 31 Dec 2003 initiated this dialogue with the Indian Left (FOIL) as represented especially by academics teaching in the West. Though currently restricted to an exchange between the two moderators, namely Rajiv and Vijay Raghavan, the intention is to gradually open the discussion to those intent on constructive dialogue.

 Indic Perspective on Science and Religion (note)

 Case for Indic Traditions in the Academy (July 2002) to abstract

 Is South Asian Studies undermining India; Repositioning India's brand (Dec 03)

 Satyagraha against the academic defamation of Hinduism (Dec 2003)

Published on 12 Dec. 2003 (page A30) in response  to Paul B. Courtright's previous piece of ??? Dec 2003 in India Abroad.

Ravishankar V.

After an early training in Economics, I migrated to Sociology. I am currently pursuing a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and plan to finish in 2005. My areas of interest in sociology are social transformations, citizenship and democracy, demographic changes and implications for public health and policy, organizational sociology and global changes due to science and technology. During the last decade I have become quite skeptical towards ideologies and formulaic thinking. Broadly described, my research deals with changes in Indian democracy after the 70’s. My striving in theory and practice is towards the betterment of the lives of working people of India first and of the world, in that order. Coming from a small town in Tamil Nadu, India, inevitably my understanding of India is shaped by social changes in Tamil Nadu during the past several decades. Extensive travel and work experience in different parts of India have modified my vision, but the core understanding is perhaps Tamil (vernacular) /small town than western / cosmopolitan. Long term alternate interests are cinema (global and Indian), contemporary Tamil literature and critical thinking in Tamil.

Sanjay Garg

Sanjay Garg is currently Project Manager in the financial and information technology domain with a focus on financial derivatives & securitization. Born in Rajasthan and raised in Calcutta & Mumbai, Sanjay migrated as a teenager to Canada, has lived in North America for the past 30 years, and is in a unique position to act as a bridge between North America & India. Sanjay holds MBA, BEng., CFP designations with 20 years of progressive experience with leading global financial services MNCs. Currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts, he holds additional professional certifications in information technology, accounting, investment management & estate planning.  Intellectually, Sanjay is a product of a (somewhat uneasy?) mix of Marxist thought from his mother's side (maternal grandfather was a member of CPI-M, Madhya Pradesh) and traditional North Indian Hindu practice of Rajasthan/ Haryana on his father's side. By age 20, he had read extensively Russian, British, French while he was singing bhajan/ kirtans and learning to play the tabla. As an Advisor with Infinity Foundation since 2002, Sanjay shares the Foundation's vision of re-vitalizing the Indic discourse and helping India find its own voice in this dialogue. He is a member of the fundraising and selection committees of the recently launched WAVES scholarship initiative.

 Visit the Hindu American Foundation homepage

Sanjay is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Hindu American Foundation. The Hindu American Foundation. (HAF) is a registered 501(3) C non profit organization whose purpose is to provide a voice for the 2 million strong Hindu American community. HAF interacts with and educates government, media, think tanks, academia and the public about Hinduism and issues of concern to Hindus locally and globally. HAF seeks to serve Hindu Americans across all sampradâyas (Hindu religious traditions).

 Visit the RBC Asian Indian radio station in New York

Sanjay can be heard on RBC radio in the NY/ NJ/ Connecticut area on Sunday mornings. He interviews scheduled guests and comments on matters relating to economics, politics. and dharma.

Visit the Hindu Society of Manitoba homepage

Sanjay has embarked on a mission to serve the Hindu community substantively first as an elected executive committee member of the Hindu Society of Manitoba where he served in successive years as Secretary and Treasurer.

Sankrant Sanu

Sankrant Sanu is a software entrepreneur who lives in Redmond, WA. After working for Microsoft for several years, Sankrant left Microsoft in 1999 to co-found Paramark, a software company. Sankrant counts the University of Texas at Austin and IIT Kanpur as his alumni schools. His interests are varied—from spirituality to skiing, from computers to playing the congas. Most recently he has been involved in volunteering as a teacher at a "Hindi school" for kids in Redmond, and spending some passionate energy conceiving of a plan for rural education in India. His dream is to dare to live up to the name given to him by his poet father.

 Are Indians corrupt? (Sulekha, 5 March 2004)

 Why India is a nation (Sulekha, 9 October 2003)

 The English Class System (Sulekha, 22 April 2003)

 Need I belong to only one religion? (Sulekha, 14 February 2003)

 Are Hinduism studies prejudiced? A look at Microsoft Encarta (Sulekha, 24 Sep. 2002)

 Towards an Indian Pluralism (Views Unplugged 2001-2003)

Sitansu Sekhar Chakravarti

Born in India, Sitansu has lived in Canada since 1974. He was teaching philosophy at an undergraduate college in Calcutta, when he came to the United States in 1972 as a graduate student. He received his M.A. in Philosophy from Jadavpur Univ., Calcutta, in 1961; and his Ph.D. also in Philosophy, from Syracuse Univ., NY, in 1977. Teachers to whom he is particularly indebted are his father, Chintaharan Chakravarti, and his maternal uncle, Mahamahopadhyaya Anantalal Thakur, both of them renowned Sanskrit scholars and manuscriptologists. Their books are in all North American University libraries where Indic Studies have a place. Others were Gopinath Bhattacharya, one of the greatest teachers in modern India of Indian as well as Western Philosophy, and Pranab Kumar Sen, arguably the best philosopher and teacher in modern India relating to Western Philosophy. Sitansu was visiting Professor at the Depts. of Philosophy, Univ. of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1991, as well as at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, in 1996. His publications include Hinduism: a Way of Life, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1991; Modality, Reference and Sense: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language, Munshiram, Manoharlal, New Delhi, 2001; Ethics in the Mahabharata: A Philosophical Inquiry, Forthcoming. He also has articles relating to Indian as well as Western Philosophy published in the Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Prabuddha Bharata, or Awakened India and Jadavpur Journal of Philosophy.

Misrepresentation of the Tantras in David White’s book (July 2004)

Consequentialism and the Gîtâ - a Response  to Amartya Sen (Feb 2004, Evam #3)

Sumi Sivaratnam

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)

 Pleasure and the Plotinian Good (2001)

 Assimilation to God as Self-Knowledge in Ennead 1.2 (2001)

Sunthar Visuvalingam

Tan Chung

TAN CHUNG is an Indian Citizen of Chinese descent born in Malaya in 1929, having lived, first, in China for 23 years, and then, in India for 44 years till date. He stepped into the shoes of his illustrious father, Prof. Tan Yun-Shan (1898-1983) of Shantiniketan—a pioneer of Chinese studies in India and Sino-Indian studies—and contributed to the building up of the Chinese studies programs in Delhi University and Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) from 1964 up till 1994 when he finally retired from JNU as Professor of Chinese. He has been a Consultant of the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA) from 1989 onwards to help develop its East Asian Program. He has authored many books, among which, China and the Brave New World and also Triton and Dragon (a Gyan Publication) are text books for history courses in Indian and foreign universities. His Dunhuang Art Through the Eyes of Duan Wenjie is a reference book for art courses on US and other English language campuses. Mrs. Tan has also taught Chinese at Delhi University. Since 1999, Prof. Tan and his wife have been living in Chicago with their son.

Dunhuang Art Through the Eyes of Duan Wenjie (1994)

In the Footsteps of Xuanzang: Tan Yun-Shan and India - Introduction  (1999) 

Tan Yun-shan - A historical Role / life-sketch (1999)

Cultural Interchange between India and China - Tan Yun-Shan (1999)

My Devotion to Tagore (3rd April 1941) / My first visit to Gandhiji  - Tan Yun-Shan (1999)

Ahimsa in Sino-Indian Culture - Tan Yun-Shan (10th October 1949)

Introduction to the Sino-Indian Cultural Society - Tan Yun-Shan (1999)

India and China: from brotherhood to partnership (June 2004)

 Chinese fangshen and Indian yoga: two idiographic developing models (June 2004)

Valerie J. Roebuck

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.

William P. Harman

DR. WILLIAM HARMAN has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and served as the Department Head from 2002-2008. He has edited Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, which will appear with State University of New York Press in the Fall. Recently, he has published articles on the Hindu Goddess of Fevers, on personal devotion in Hinduism, and on the performance of ritual jokes in a joint Muslim/Hindu festival in India. In the summer of 2004, he wrote a successful grant to take a group of UTC students to India to study Indian culture and religion. He teaches Indian religions, Goddess Traditions, and Introduction to Religions.

 The Martyr Bomber Becomes a Goddess: Women, Theosis, and Sacrificial Violence in Sri Lanka (2009)