This section contains brief biographies of some of the dramatis personae and some of the contributors to this site.
Debashish Banerji, Ph.D., is a co-founder/administrator of the weblog Science, Culture and Integral Yoga (SCIY) and a teacher of Asian Art History and Indian Spiritual Culture. He also works as Educational Coordinator for the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles and served as president of the Sri Aurobindo Center, Los Angeles from 1991-2005. Banerji’s comments in SCIY on the controversy surrounding the Lives of Sri Aurobindo may be found here.
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Richard Carlson is a writer/musician and the president of Pacific Weather Inc, a firm which monitors meteorological information at airports throughout the United States. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Psychology and currently resides on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. He is a co-founder/administrator of the weblog Science, Culture and Integral Yoga, and hosted the All USA Meeting (AUM conference) in 2005.
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Manoj Das Gupta has lived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram from childhood and was appointed a trustee of the ashram at a young age. He had a distinguished student career and has since been a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He is presently the registrar of the SAICE and the managing trustee of the ashram.
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R. Y. Deshpande is a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Prior to his residence in Pondicherry, Deshpande was a scientist in the employment of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, where he worked for a number of Atomic Energy and Space Projects. He has written several scientific research papers in professional journals and has authored a number of books and articles on topics related to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, particularly on Savitri. For a brief period, Deshpande was the associate editor of the cultural journal Mother India, published from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Deshpande was also briefly an editor of the weblog Science, Culture and Integral Yoga. He is currently the founding editor of the blog, Mirror of Tomorrow.
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François Gautier is the editor-in-chief of La Revue de l’Inde (formerly a correspondent for Le Figaro) and the author of several books. He has lived in India since the 1970s and describes himself as “one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents — a lover of Hindus.” His review of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs appeared in The New Indian Express (www.expressbuzz.com).
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Richard Hartz has been working in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives since 1980. He studied philosophy at Yale University and has a Master of Arts degree in South Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington. He has written articles and given talks on Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga, the composition of Savitri, and other subjects.
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Peter Heehs is a historian and a practitioner of the Integral Yoga. He has resided at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1971. The same year, he began working under Jayantilal Parekh, who had been asked by the Mother to start an archives. In 1973, Heehs and a handful of others helped Jayantilal found the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives. Heehs's publications include nine books and more than forty articles dealing with the life and work of Sri Aurobindo, Indian spiritual traditions, the history of modern India, and other subjects. His books have been published by university presses in the United States and India, and the articles in journals such as History and Theory, Modern Asian Studies, and History Today. His latest book, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, was released by Columbia University Press in May 2008.
Search Heehs at this website.
David Hutchinson is a registered nurse at the UC Davis Medical Center, California, where he works in the technology field, implementing a large-scale electronic medical record. He has participated actively in the founding and maintenance of various Integral Yoga online community initiatives, including the Miraura Web site (www.miraura.org) and the auroconf discussion group. He served as president of the Sri Aurobindo Association for several years, edited the journal Collaboration, and has hosted two AUM conferences (1998, 2008).
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J. Kepler has been studying the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and attempting to practice their yoga for the past 30 years. He has visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville many times. He works professionally in the software industry.
→ Kepler’s Review of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Marcel Kvassay, a graduate of Slovak Technical University in Bratislava, worked for Oxford University Press in the area of English Language Teaching, and for Alcatel as a trainer and a software development methodologist. He spent several years in Puducherry, India, most of the time working at SABDA, a book distribution unit of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department.
→ First of two parts of Marcel's review of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Lynda Lester lives presently in Sacramento, CA. She has had a career in publishing and as a technical writer/editor. In the late 1980s, she served on the board of Auroville International USA and co-organized AUM 1988 in Boulder, CO. She is a past president of the Sri Aurobindo Association and was editor of Collaboration for ten years. She has given many presentations on the Integral Yoga to groups and centers around the U.S.
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Julian Lines lives in Woodstock, New York, where he runs a shop named "Pondicherry," featuring yoga related items including clothing, videos, books and CDs. Lines has been interested in the teachings of Sri Aurobindo since 1972 and has been active as an organizer of community events related to followers and admirers of this work. He is presently a member of the International Advisory Council of Auroville and Chair of Auroville International. He is also the President Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Centre and a board member of AVIUSA and the Nakashima Foundation for Peace.
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Sachidananda Mohanty, Ph.D., is a Professor and head of the department of English at the University of Hyderabad, India. Mohanty is a recipient of a number of awards, grants and fellowships and has published fourteen books in English and in Oriya. His essays and articles have appeared in a number of journals and forums in India. His most recent published book is an edited volume of Sri Aurobindo’s writings entitled Sri Aurobindo: A Contemporary Reader, published by Routledge India in 2008.
Ulrich Mohrhoff is an independent researcher and a faculty member of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE) in Pondicherry, India, where he teaches a spiritually oriented course of physics. He is the managing editor of AntiMatters, an open-access e-journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives, published quarterly by the SAICE. Links to his numerous papers and presentations can be found here.
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Michael Murphy is the co-founder of Esalen Institute, California. He is a key figure in the Human Potential Movement and author of both fiction and non-fiction books on topics related to extraordinary human potential. His best-selling 1972 novel, Golf in the Kingdom, is considered a classic on the transformational potential of sport. His encyclopedic work, The Future of the Body, is a historical and cross-cultural collection of documentation on extraordinary physical functioning. Murphy spent eighteen months at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and credits Sri Aurobindo as the major inspiration and foundation for his work.
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Alok Pandey, M.D., completed his postgraduate in Psychiatry from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune and worked at the Indian Air Force. He presently resides at the Sri Aurobondo Ashram, Pondicherry. Pandey is a contributing editor of NAMAH (New Approaches to Medicine and Health), a journal on health and healing and is known in Sri Aurobindo circles for his talks on yoga, psychology, education and health. Pandey is among those who publicly castigated Peter Heehs for the writing of the book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Search Pandey at this website.
Vijay Poddar grew up at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and is a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He is a member of the executive committee of the Sri Aurobindo Society, an organization with a controversial history with Auroville. He is also the Director of Sri Aurobindo Institute for Research in Social Science as well as of the Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Integral Health and Research and an office bearer controlling power in several other such organizations operating under the umbrella of the Sri Aurobindo Society.
Search Poddar at this website.
Pranab Bhattacharya has been a resident and highly influential member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1945. From an early period during this stay, he was made responsible for the Physical Education Department of the ashram and remains the head of this service. Under this department, he built and controls the ashram's film and photography division. He was also an attendant on the Mother in the last years of her life.
The former head of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, Ranganath was relieved from his responsibilities at the Press under controversial circumstances. He was since given work at the Ashram Archives. Along with Raman Reddy, Ranganath initiated action against Peter Heehs which quickly grew into a full blown campaign.
Search for Ranganath at this website.
Sraddhalu Ranade is a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and presently spends his time shuttling between Pondicherry and New Delhi. He was a member of the Sri Auorbindo Archives until December 2008, when he was relieved of his responsibilities in that department for non-attendance. Ranade is well known in Sri Aurobindo circles for his talks and workshops on Integral Yoga and Integral Education. He has been one of the main pillars in public actions against the author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
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Ananda Reddy, Ph.D., graduated from the Sri Aurobindo International Center Of Education, Pondicherry and completed his doctoral studies at Madras University. He is presently the founder-director of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR) and President of the University of Tomorrow, Pondicherry.
Ananda Reddy addressed a letter to the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram on 6 September, 2008. A significant feature of this letter is the cultural issues it raises.
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Kittu Reddy has lived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry since 1941. He was educated entirely at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, where he presently teaches Indian History and topics related to the social and political thought of Sri Aurobindo. Since 1987, he has also been giving talks to the Indian Army on Indian culture, the Mission of India and Motivation and Leadership. Reddy has a few published books on Indian History. As a teacher and writer, Reddy's support for an aggressive Hindu exclusivism and nationalism is unmistakable.
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Savitra received his name from the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and lived at the Ashram and Auroville, where he spent 21 years (1969–1990) apprenticing "applied spirituality," community-building, and environmental restoration in the interface of first-world/third-world realities. In 1990, he relocated to America where he currently lives in Ashland, Oregon. He is an extended research associate with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and has been a guest on Michael Toms' New Dimensions Radio as well as a presenter at numerous conferences, universities, and institutes including Esalen, Matthew Fox's University of Creation Spiritualiy, the IONS 30th Anniversary Conference, and What is Enlightenment journal's community retreat center. He has written a number of books, the latest being An Evolutionary Agenda for the Third Millennium, published by White Cloud Press. He may be reached via savitra AT earthlink DOT net.
Larry Seidlitz, Ph.D., is a faculty member of Sri Aurobindo Darshan: The University of Tomorrow (www.theuniversityoftomorrow.org), a project of the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research, Pondicherry, India. He is also editor of a journal on Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga called Collaboration. Previously, Larry Seidlitz was an Assistant Professor and researcher in psychiatry and psychology at The University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, USA. He received his doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993.
Seidlitz has written a detailed examination of the criticism against The Lives of Sri Aurobindo.
Karan Singh, Ph.D., is an Indian politician, author, diplomat and present titular Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Singh received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Delhi. He has had an eminent career as an Indian politician and diplomat, having served as governor of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from 1965 to 1967, Union Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation from 1967 to 1973, Minister of Health and Family Planning from 1973 to 1977 and Minister of Education and Culture in 1979–1980. In 1990–1991, he served as Indian Ambassador to the US. From 1967 to 1980 and again in 1990 Singh served as an MP in the Lok Sabha; since 1996, he has been an MP in the Rajya Sabha. He served as Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, Jammu and Kashmir University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is an active member of several boards, organizations, and foundations, including the Author's Guild of India, the ICCR, the Auroville Foundation, the Indian Board of Wildlife, and several others. He received the Padma Vibhushan in 2005.
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