Last Edited: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 01:56 PM -0500 /  Last Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 01:56 PM -0500

Aline Mopsik

Alvaro Enterria

Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1953, Alvaro Enterra, 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.

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. ndica 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 Olaeta, Palma de Mallorca, ndica 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.

André-Yves Portnoff

André-Yves Portnoff has a doctorate in metallurgic sciences and is the director of the Observatoire de la Rvolution de lIntelligence (Observatory of the Intelligence Revolution) at Futuribles International. He is the co-author of La Rvolution de lIntelligence (1983-1985), the first report that introduced the concept of the intangible/immaterial society to France. Journalist and consultant in foresight ('prospective' in French, is different from forecasting  and futurology), he currently collaborates with large businesses and with SMEs interested in integrating the consequences of human and technological evolution into their strategy and management. He developed with Futuribles a method (called 'VIP') for evaluating the overall capital of firms. André-Yves is also researching the role of cultural and political factors on creativity and development; and he is likewise keen on identifying common elements in all cultures: Asiatic, European and African. He participates, from this perspective, in the deliberations of the Asia 21 think-tank. I, in fact, got to know him just before our round-table discussion of 11th January 2005.

Anil Bahuguna

I first met Anil when he came to see Flix and Aurora at their Madrid home whom I had come down to visit from Paris in February 2005. As he was just about to leave for India, I gave him the email address of Kundan Khan in New Delhi. We met him again on 24th July 2006 at a dinner party hosted by Aurora during our week-long visit.

"Gharmaindi is a Spanish company developed by entrepreneurs, specialized in the sale of all types of handicrafts and utility items. These items are imported from across the world giving you a range of choices in handmade paper items, traditional handicrafts, utensils, leather items, cutlery, wooden items and bookmarks. We specialize in home decor and also day-to-day items, thus providing you with a whole gamut of perfect utility items which are both high on quality and follow international standards, at the same time keeping the product's traditional aura intact. These items come in varied shapes, styles and sizes and we ensure they meet your satisfaction. We believe in serving you with the very best from around the world. We feel that it is only through your faith in us that over time, we can establish ourselves all over Europe. So if you want your home to look authentic, your kitchen wares to be stylish or gift your friends something they will cherish forever, Gharmaindi is the right place to shop."

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 Avatra: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gt 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."
 

Bharat Gupt

[See Hindu Civilization for Bharat's biographical note]
 

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.

 

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

Catherine Bouchet-Orphelin

Trade Consultant for Asian Affairs, Finaldes. Finauteuil Investissements, Financair, member of the board. Previously based in Beijing for CGE Alsthom International / Export area manager for Gec Alsthom High Power Transformers - Paris / Adviser for Asia - Babcock Enterprise- CNIM Group - Paris. Postgraduate qualification  in Chinese (INALCO - Paris), and  in History (Sorbonne Paris IV), National Taiwan University. Audited course at the IHEDN.  Member and coordinator of the French think tank: Asia 21 / Futuribles.

Catherine Chalier

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

We got to know Charles (and Aline) Mopsik 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). Nathan Katz had recommended Elizabeth in 1985 (?) as a prospective co-author of an article comparing (the transmutation of) sexuality in the two traditions, and Hananya had accordingly put her in touch with Charles. Having just discovered the works of Gershom Scholem on Sabbatai Sevi during my talk at New York on "Transgressive Sacrality in the Hindu Tradition," I sent the paper from Benares to Charles, who wrote back saying that, unlike these 'apostates', there was already such an antinomian tradition within 'orthodox' Kabala with roots in ancient Judaism. On my first of our many meetings at his home in Paris, I learned that, whereas his father was more interested in Theosophy and India, Charles had self-consciously returned to his Jewish roots through a single-minded interest in Kabalistic esotericism. Indeed, when I was introduced to his father on my second visit, the latter was more keen on posing me questions about the Vedas than my new-found interest in Jewish mysticism. One of the first things that struck me about Charles was his open-mindedness: for example, even while doggedly opposing my defense of Scholemin whose dialectical approach to the historical evolution of Judaism I saw a confirmation of my hermeneutics of the Veda-Tantra complementarity-opposition within 'Hinduism'he would immediately find passages in arcane Hebrew (or Aramaic) to support my intuitions. 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 and Hyam Maccoby. We had also discussed plans for a collective volume on transgressive sacrality in the Jewish tradition.  Charles Mopsik passed away on 13 June 2003, while Elizabeth and I were in Paris, leaving behind a prodigious life-work of Kabalistic studies. Though my greatest regret is not having taken up his invitation to attend his last EHESS seminars on bio-ethics (cloning, etc.), we are still grateful to continue discoveringeven through the various post-funerary serviceshis close circle of friends, collaborators, and admirers.

Chitra Raman

I first got to know Chitra through a few exchanges at the now defunct Indic Traditions Yahoo! forum, and she eventually joined our Abhinavagupta forum in early November 2003.  Elizabeth and I subsequently had the pleasure of getting to know her over dinner at an Indian restaurant, when she visited Chicago with her family for Thanksgiving weekend at the end of that same month. Especially during the course of 2005, Chitra has participated actively in various online debates at Abhinava dealing with Indian tradition, dress-codes, neuroscience and cognitive theories, and a host of other issues, from a very independent Hindu feminist perspective. My first post  to the Abhinava forum (30 Nov 2005) on her svAbhinava section contains a selection of extracts from her earliest writings presented here.

Christian Bouchet

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.

The links to Christian's thesis chapters, abstract, examiners' reports, and other essays were moved on 18 Jan 2004 to Joseph Martin's Esoteric Philosophy homepage.

Though this course planned by Florence Ghibellini, herself a regular lucid dreamer, never really materialized, the outline of the procedures still remains interesting.

Cleo McNelly Kearns

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 Kumr, the points of convergence between deconstructionist readings of classical texts and postmodern spiritual motivations, theologies of liberation and commitment to social justice.

Cleo's paper presented to the Indic Colloquium attempted 1) to argue that Indic traditions have been vital to American literature and philosophy from at least the nineteenth century to today, in ways that the conventional presentation of American intellectual and cultural history profoundly underestimate; 2) to review the intersections between Indic philosophy and current trends in continental philosophy and literary theory; 3) to discuss the extraordinary power and prevalence of reductive and secularist approaches to the Western canon and to Indic and other texts of world literature in literary studies today, and the resulting ignorance of the 'Inner Sciences' (adhytma-vidy) which these literatures encode and without which they cannot be fully understood; 4) to suggest the kinds of study that might re-open the books on these literatures as repositories of an enormous and potentially global storehouse of spiritual techniques and practices which, while they cannot be reduced to some perennial philosophy or normative science, can nevertheless be usefully collated and compared; 5) to argue more strongly for the addition of the category of the aesthetic to the scope of adhytmavidy by discussing how aesthetic issues might be articulated in terms of the agenda of the Global Renaissance.

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 personaland clearly ongoingattempt 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.

Edward Moore

I discovered Edward in December 2001 on the Ontological Ethics forum where he was engaged in friendly dialogue on our understanding of Greek thought in relation to Christian Neo-Platonism and modern Western philosophy with Gary Moore (who was also attempting to look at these issues from an Indian angle, particularly his readings on Abhinavagupta) and Joseph Martin (who looks at these problematics rather from a 'nihilistic' Nietzschean and 'political' perspective). With the launching of  Joe's Esoteric Philosophy outreach site at svAbhinava in January 2004, we naturally included a personal section on Edward with pointers to Joe's digests of some of these dialogues (transcendence, East meets West). By the end of 2004, Edward had also intervened in several debates that I had animated around the doctrine of the Trinity, anti-Semitism and the Cross, etc., in which has also participated Frank Burch Brown and Antonio de Nicols, so much so that I decided to launch our Hindu-Christ outreach page in April 2005 immediately after the demise of Pope Jean-Paul II.

Félix Ilarráz

 [Aurora is a volunteer at the Caritas organization dedicated to truly catholic relief world-wide, including saving the starving children of Iraq.]

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

This is the original message that Frank emailed on 9/14/01 to relatives and friends, and that I forwarded immediately to our own circle. It was edited into an abridged, and somewhat unbalanced, form by the Indianapolis Star for its op ed page of Oct 7th, 01, along with another good piece by a Mennonite pastor.

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 persons 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."

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 outsidethe establishment is under the control of communist trade unions.

Hesna Cailliau

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 aut's taleshor 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.

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.

Jack Hill

Legendary cult-film director, grunge auteur, notoriousthese are some of the epithets used to describe writer-director Jack Hill. He has also been referred to as the man who initiated the women-in-prison genre of the seventies, and whose films helped define the so-called Blaxploitation genre, as well as the man who discovered Pam Grier. Jack got his BA from UCLA (1960) majoring in music composition. He composed and conducted orchestral score for student film, and did two years post-graduate studies in cinema. He also wrote and directed The Host, a 30-minute student film. Jack and his wife revere Swami (Gurumayi) Chidvilasananda as Swami (Baba) Muktananda's appointed successor. They had met Baba in 1980 and received Shaktipat initiation at that time, an event that changed their lives forever. Baba's lectures on Kashmir Shaivism led Jack to a deep interest in the subject, and after some years of contemplating the scriptures and commentaries, he came to the understanding that Kashmir Shaivism is a true philosophy, not just something that somebody made up.  Down through the years since that time he has come to meet several scientistsfellow devoteeswho expressed a similar conclusion.

I discovered Jack on joining (20 Nov 01) the Abhinavagupta forum (created 1st Sep 01), for he was already a 'founder' member of sorts (from 7 Sep, the 8th person to join) and remains to date the seniormost continuously subscribed member. Since then, I have come to appreciate not just his helpful advice to newer members on where to find (more) information on Kashmir Shaivism but also his frequent comments on (even contentious) spiritual matters on the basis of his experiences with Muktananda and his personal practice of Siddha Yoga (his first post dates back to 29 Dec 01).

Unlike most cult films, Hill's films were commercially extremely successful in their initial release, despite being generally snubbed by the more self-important critics of the time. But that situation has been remedied in recent years, as many of today's serious criticsperhaps inspired by the enthusiastic support of Quentin Tarantino, who gladly acknowledges the influence of Hill's films on his own workhave been taking a new look at some of Hill's films of the sixties and seventies and using terms like "post-modern", "ahead of their time", and "feminist manifesto" to describe them. The resulting rediscovery by a new generation of film fans has led to virtually all his films being currently reissued on home video and DVD. Among his current projects are Tangier, Together Again, A Perfect Wife and Don't Ask.

Jack Park

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.

Jacqueline and Roland Bouchet

Roland and Jacqueline are the parents of Christian Bouchet. 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 trangres) 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. -Sunthar

 

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 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.

Jakob De Roover

Jean-Marc de Grave

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 (shrngâra) 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) before pursuing further research in Java. While in Kuala Lumpur, he spent much time with my childhood friends and family. I met Jean-Marc again on 19 Octobre 2004 at his audio-visual presentation on "Social implications of scripted movement, Indonesian examples," at the Collge de France within the conference on Marey and the Physiology of Movement.

Initiation Rituelle et Arts Martiaux :  Trois coles de kanuragan javanais (L'Harmattan; ISBN : 2-7475-0242-2  2001  372 pages): "The topics addressed deal with Javanese initiatic practices and martial arts as they are found in the Jogjakarta Sultanate. This consequential subject is situated at the intersection of several fields of interest : rituals, religion, politics, techniques of the body, know-how, ritual arts, sports. The proposed analysis clarifies in its own way the competitive character of the modern system teaching and  production." Jean-Marc was so kind as to give us a complimentary copy soon after we met.

I was able to attend Jean-Marc's illustrated talk at this conference around "Marey and the Physiology of Movement" (18-19 October 2004) at the Collge de France in Paris, and briefly resume contacts with him afterwards.

 

Jeff Conklin

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.

Joaqun Albaicn (IRWA profile)

Mukur Khisha and I met Joaquin for the first time in Madrid on 22 July 2001 around late lunch at the Illraz'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 Joaqun. I was introduced to Joaqun, 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.

I created this homepage on 26 Dec 03 to provide a cyber-home for Joaqun's collaborative initiatives amidst the Roma 'diaspora', particularly in relation to their Indian heritage. The colorful cast of characters - featured at launch were Hans Caldaras, Agnes Darczi and Raya - nicely complements the cosmopolitan complexion of this svAbhinava friends page and site as a whole.

 

This article was originally written for the Spanish Muslim paper Amanecer ('Dawn'), which refused to publish it, thus ending their collaboration (they had previously published 3 articles by him). Joaqun argues that Pakistan is a nation without a political purpose that therefore needs the hobby-horse of Kashmir to justify its existence. As an agent of destabilization and a check on the expansion of Indian influence, it has well served the geopolitical purposes of (earlier the British and now) the United States (and till now...China). On the brink of disintegration, Joaqun foresees a future where the Pakistani populace might well end up demanding reintegration into a "Hindu" India where Muslims enjoy full and equitable rights of citizenship. For more on Pakistan's identity crisis, see Bruno Philip, "Pakistan or the impossible democracy" (Le Monde, 13 Oct 01); for American discovery of the double game vis--vis the Taliban, see Jacques Isnard, "The ISI: the patron of the Taliban" (Le Monde, 13 Oct 01); for a critique of current US policy towards Pakistan, see also Christophe Jaffrelot, specialist of "Hindu" political parties, "Can Pakistan be controlled?" (Le Monde, 18 Oct 01); for Ahmed Rashid's denunciation of Pakistan's suicidal involvement in Afghanistan, see his acceptance speech of the Nisar Osmani award for Courage in Journalism. The contradictions (bordering on duplicity...) of the U.S. 'war on terrorism' is aptly illustrated by the recent exercise in 'rescuing the enemy' (viz. Pakistani military brass) from besieged Afghan city of Kunduz.

Karine Ledrech

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 Kristle) 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 (Vajrayna) Buddhism.

Lynn Gibson

Martin Riesebrodt

Martin Riesebrodt's academic interests are in social theory, the historical and comparative sociology of religion, and the relationship between religion, politics, and secular culture. Central areas of teaching and research focus on theories of religion and on the role religion plays in processes of formation of social groups and their identities, especially with reference to class, gender, and generation. His most recent book, Die Rckkehr der Religionen. Fundamentalismus und der 'Kampf der Kulturen,' explores the unexpected renewal of religion in the modern world. Based on a revised theory of religion, it argues that secularization and the resurgence of religion are not mutually exclusive but rather related to each other. Continuing arguments made in his earlier Pious Passion: The Emergence of Fundamentalism in the United States and Iran, the book also analyzes the relationship between fundamentalism, class, and gender, and offers a critique of Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations." Professor Riesebrodt has also published on classical social theory, in particular the work of Max Weber. He has co-edited a volume on key theoretical concepts in Max Weber's sociology of religion, Max Webers Religionssystematik. He is presently working on a sociological theory of religion which understands religion and its practices as a cultural resource for the management of uncertainty and prevention of crises. Examples of lay-oriented practices, virtuosi practices, and religious propaganda taken from Abrahamic as well as East Asian traditions will illustrate and test basic assumptions of the theory. Moreover, the book will offer a sociological justification of the concept of religion.

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 Ghz 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 Franois Chenet.
 

Mohammad-Rza Fashahi

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. 

Mohan Thampi, G. Bala

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 Vidshaka, 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 Flix Ilarrz 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.

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.

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 (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."

Nathan Katz and Ellen Goldberg

Nathan and Ellen were first introduced to us in the early 1980s in our apartment at the Benares Hindu University by his former tutor, Prof. L. N. Sharma, specialist of Kashmir Shaivism and subsequently Head of the Dept. of Indian Philosophy and Religion. They were just beginning their research on the Indian Jews in Cochin and elsewhere, and were thrilled to discover that Elizabeth had already made some preliminary explorations in this area. When Hananya Goodman began preparing his collective volume, Between Jerusalem and Benares (SUNY 1994), Nathan put him in touch with Elizabeth for an eventual joint-paper on "Union and Unity in Hindu Tantrism and Kabala," which is how we got to know Charles Mopsik in Paris, and thereby a whole circle of specialists in Judaic studies. With my quitting academia in 1993, we lost touch entirely with them. On 13th November 2003, we were contacted by Nathan's student Nawaraj Chaulagain, who was contemplating doing a Ph.D. on Newar kingship at Harvard University, and was thereby instrumental in helping us re-establish contacts. Since then we have been gradually discovering all that Nathan and Ellen have accomplished, over the years, by way of bettering Indo-Jewish relations in a manner that emphasizes religio-cultural pluralism and dialogue.

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 Flix (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.

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

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is a venture & technology MBA graduate at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. His did his undergraduate studies 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. 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. He is presently working for Integrative Health Synergies, an Indianapolis company developing a world-class integrative medicine program with Ayurveda, the traditional health care system of India, as its core.

Patrick Laude

Patrick, who teaches French literature at Georgetown University, has been shaped in his outlook by the metaphysics of the Perennialist School and Frithjof Schuon. He did his M.A. (1983) and Ph.D. (1985) in French literature at Indiana University (Bloomington). I got to know Patrick through the exchange on Ren Gunon that I had with him and another member of his panel after his talk on "Taoist adventures in the XXth century: Matgioi, Gunon, Grenier, tiemble," during the 3-day Sorbonne Colloquium on "The Encounter of Eastern and Western Religions in Modern Literature" (6-8 February 2003), and my subsequent report on the Gunonian presence there.

This volume is being published by Palgrave in 2005.

 

Pedro Soto Adrados / Maria Ordua Anunciacin

Doa M Anunciacin Ordua Ferrero (Nunci) and Don Pedro Soto Adrados are the current President and Treasurer respectively of the Fundacin 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 Flix Ilrraz, the Fundacin 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 Fundacin. 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 (Flix, 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.

"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.

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 Aurobindos 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)

Rainer von Grafenhorst

Rainer hat seine Dissertation (als Dr. phil.) ber das kosmographische System der PurNas fertiggestellt, der im Verlag seines Doktorvaters Albrecht Wezler publiziert wurde. Das bedeutet nicht, da ich meine Interessen am alten Indien ganz aufgegebn habe. Er schreibt seit einiger Zeit an einem Buch ber Wirtschaftsstruktur und Semantik im alten Indien. Zur Zeit beschftigt er sich mit dem Haushalt der Hetre bzw. mit dem Thema Prostitution. Meine Quellen sind dharma-, artha- und kmashstra-Quellen. Rainer halt Niklas Luhmann fr den wichtigsten zeitgenssischen Soziologen und ist von seinem rigorosen Anspruch an saubere Theorie absolut berzeugt: nur sie historisches Material wirklich zum Sprechen bringen kann. Ich habe mich mit dieser Orientierung auch den indologischen Theorien entzogen, die mir frher 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 Ren Gunon 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 Tbingen, 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. 

Rajiv Malhotra

I first heard of the Infinity Foundation founded by Rajiv Malhotra on ??? through an American Sanskritist, who suggested that it as a source of possible funding for ongoing editing and publication of the series on Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Culture. Tapas Bhat subsequently urged me in May 2001 to write Rajiv, whom she had heard on his recently visit to Auroville. My participation in late July 2002 at the Indic Colloquium, at the invitation of Rajiv and Robert Thurman, not only renewed my involvement with institutionalized Indology but also (re-) introduced me to several (previously known) new Indian and Western scholars of India, such as Makarand Paranjape, Arindam Chakraborti, Stuart Sovatsky, Tom Yarnall, Sangeeta Menon, Ian Whicher, Rita Dasgupta Sherma, ??? . [to be completed]

Ray Harris

Click on "Reflection and Debate" on the left menu and choose Reading Room in the dropdown list; you'll find Ray Harris in the alphabetical listing by last name of contributors.

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.

Sumi Sivaratnam

My niece SUMI left Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to resettle in Australia. She completed her doctorate in the classics on Plotinus in June 2004 and obtained her degree in October of the same year. She has taught Sanskrit and enjoys playing the sitar. 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).

Tan Chung

Though I had noticed Prof. Tan (and Mrs. Tan) a couple of times before during seminars and talks by visiting scholars at the South Asia Dept. of the University of Chicago, I really took note of him only during the workshop (May 15-16, 2004) on "The Peculiarities of Indian Democracy," where he repeatedly intervened from the floor with feeling about his profound appreciation of the Indian ethos. I was particularly struck by his response when the topic was broached of the internment of the Chinese community in India during the border war of 1962. When the Indian speaker ventured a comparison with the internment of Japanese in USA during the Second World War, Prof. Tan could not restrain himself from pointing out the inaptness of the comparison, with his first-hand recollections that the (so-called) 'internees' had been rather treated as 'house-guests' (with all the positive connotations that the term has in the Indian cultural context), and recounted the story about Nehru cited in my first post to the Abhinavagupta forum about his father and himself (Jun 24, 2004 ). Prof. Tan is still an active missionary in the strengthening of Sino-Indian relations and the presentation of shared Asian values to audiences in America and Europe. You can read more about him at our IndoChina homepage at svAbhinava.

Umair Ahmed Muhajir

I came to know of Umair through his lucid response of 5th August 2004 on the Abhinavagupta forum to my post on "National character, family and personality: questions of identity," and we have since then been conversing there on a range of topics including Hindu-Muslim identities; Bollywood, Sufi devotion and Krishna bhakti; and a variety of civilizational issues.

Ursula Kolmstetter (1952 - 05 June 2009)

Cursor / Photo Left Right Bottom
Initial Ursula in her garden at Sunthar's birthday party (30 June 2002) Thinker at Rodin museum in Paris  (17 Nov 2002) With Laurence, Elizabeth, Sunthar at a French restaurant beside the Sorbonne (19 Nov 2002)
Left With Elizabeth at same garden party (30 June 2002) Before the pond at Rodin museum (17 Nov 2002) party for Sunthar's  sister visiting from UK in 1998
Right with Elizabeth at Chicago Art Fair in Navy Pier (12 May 2001) Yummy Chinese restaurant in Indianapolis (19 May 2001) dinner at Ursula's home  (Last Supper - (25 Dec 2003)
Bottom toasting Sunthar's health at his birthday party (30 June 2002) lighting candle at her home (03 June 2001) serving pizza (?)  for Xmas dinner at her home
Ursula K. with Elizabeth our Paris apt (16 Nov 2002) listening with Sunthar to a guest in Paris (16 Nov 2002) before pond at back of Rodin museum  (17 Nov 2002)
Reminiscences on sofa with Sunthar at Paris apt (16 Nov 2002) Reza Persian restaurant in Chicago (04 July 2004) awaiting guests with Elizabeth in Paris  (16 Nov 2002)

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.

Vinay Bahl

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 Collge 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).

This essay highlights the role of various local, historical, social, economic, political, colonial, and international forces that contributed in creating particular dress code and style (social reproduction of customs) for women of different social groups in South Asia in different historical times, thereby eliminating the binary concepts of nativity/modernity, progressive/primitive, developed/undeveloped, etc., and treat all societies in the world with the same yardstick, while at the same time acknowledging the unequal relationship between the colonizers and colonized. It suggests how everyday cultural issues can be historically explained in an inclusive manner without sacrificing the role of human agency (creativity, capabilities, actions, and subjectivity), imagination, structural and institutional forces (meta-narrative), and cultural forces (religion, nationalism, customs, and others), and experiences in everyday life, which are also contextualized historically (time and space, locally and globally), politically, culturally, and economically.

This is the "Introduction" (pp.3-23) by Vinay Bahl and Arif Dirlik to History after the Three Worlds: Post-Eurocentric Historiographies, edited Arif Dirlik, Vinay Bahl and Peter Gran (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000), 288 pages.

Published in History after the Three Worlds: Post-Eurocentric Historiographies, pp.???-???.

"Recent academic debates on theoretical dichotomies obscured several crucial issues such as emancipation and social justice. For those writing history from below, new dilemmas present themselves, as conservatism, feeding on such reinterpretation, presents itself with a new legitimacy while spontaneous efforts to empower people have ended up being co-opted within the prevailing political system. To bring back emancipatory politics and social justice to the concept of the 'history from below' it is important that prevailing assumptions see a fundamental transformation."  Published on 11 Jan 2003 as a Special Article in the Economic and Political Weekly. See also Sunny Singh's response, "Sat - A Question of Religious Liberty," to Vinay's section II "Sat Revisited" at our  svAbhinava Indo-Roma section.

Yoginder Sikand

I was introduced 7th June 2002 to Yoginder's Qalandar website for South Asian interfaith dialogue by Aminah Mohammed, whom I had got to know during my passage through Paris in summer 2001. Having eventually chanced upon svAbhinava.org on his own on 3rd Nov. 2003, Yoginder added me to his mailing list of online articles, book reviews, interviews, etc. When I requested permission on 18th June 2004 to post his two-part article on "The Muslim Rishis of Kashmir" within our online project on Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Culture, Yoginder immediately gave me blanket permission to re-publish any of his ongoing pieces, through which we have gotten to know other Muslim intellectuals, such as Asghar Ali Engineer and Farish Ahmad-Noor, who now also figure at Between Mecca and Benares. I finally got to meet Yoginder in Paris on 15th November 2004 after listening and responding informally to his talk on Asghar Ali Engineer: the development of an Islamic theology appropriate to the Indian context.