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  • Interpreting The Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in terms of Shakti and Sophia

    with Robert McDermott, PhD

    Date: 02/25/2018


    This talk in honor of Mother’s birthday will present the Mother as a manifestation of Shakti (Sanskrit: divine feminine cosmic energy) and Sophia (Greek: divine-human feminine wisdom). It will draw on the writings of The Mother and on Sri Aurobindo’s books, The Mother and Savitri.

    Robert McDermott, PhD, is president emeritus of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. Since 2000 he has been a professor in the CIIS program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. His publications on Sri Aurobindo include The Essential Aurobindo (1973; 1987); Six Pillars: Introductions to the Works of Sri Aurobindo (1974; 2012); The Spirit of Modern India (1974; 1987. With the late Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri, he edited a Sri Aurobindo Centenary volume of the International Philosophical Quarterly (1972). Dr. McDermott wrote and co-directed Avatar: Concept and Example (Open University-BBC, 1976). With Dr. Debashish Banerji, he is currently writing Aurobindo Extended.

  • An enigmatic Indian nationalist contra Bose & Gandhi: V S Srinivasa Sastri

    with Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD

    Date: 03/04/2018


    The Rt. Hon. V.S. Srinivasa Sastri is an almost forgotten personality in Indian nationalist and intellectual history. This staunchly Hindu-Brahmin diplomat, a largely self-educated vidvān and English-lingua orator, was an erudite apologist and savant of the Empire; he travelled to ‘white’ dominions – Union of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (and Fiji and Malaya). He was on God’s mission to lobby for repeal of draconian racial bills and to promote a sanguinely positive image of British India and, conversely of Indian residents (NRIs) settled there, whom he lauded as dutiful subjects of His Royal Majesty, or natives of British India. Sastri attended the Disarmaments Conference in Washington DC in 1921 and admonished those Western imperial powers violently scrambling over Asian markets and territories. He attended the two Round Table Conferences in London in early 1930s and also lobbied for Indian rights in Kenya. G. K. Gokhale was his mentor who he succeeded as President of the Servants of India Society; shortly afterwards he founded the Indian Liberal Federation as an alternative to the Indian National Congress, representing the liberal voice of the moderates in the Home Rule movement. While a dear friend of Mahatma Gandhi, their relationship however was strained, eventually ending over the ‘Quit India’ movement; he certainly was not one for armed revolution against the British. Sastri died in something of an isolation in Madras (Chennai) in 1946. The presentation explores the illustrious life of Srinivasa Sastri and celebrates his achievements alongside those of Subhas Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi.

    Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and Core Doctorial Faculty with Center for Dharma Studies at Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, a Visiting Professor at the University of California in Berkeley. He is also Honorary Research Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University and Senior Fellow at University of Melbourne, in Australia. He is a Co-editor-in-chief of SOPHIA, (Springer) and of the Journal of Dharma Studies (Springer).

  • Sanskrit - a language, and some more

    with Lopa Mukherjee

    Date: 03/11/2018


    Psychologists say if you want to empathize with a people, learn their language. But when that language is supposed to be the language of the gods, then learning it should take you closer to the gods! Sanskrit is called the language of the gods – devabhasha. Wisdom texts of India, as well as the best of poetry, drama and prose, including the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, are written in Sanskrit. It is a language that is well suited to convey revelatory speech, and at the same time is a precise medium for all kinds of communication. Underlying it is a vibration that can be intuited by a perceptive mind. Sanskrit works have influenced Indian culture from the beginning of India’s history. Many Western thinkers, such as Schopenhauer, Thoreau and Emerson have been influenced by the Upanishads. Sanskrit is studied in linguistics curricula around the world.


    In this talk we will explore why Sanskrit is a good medium for soul literature. We will see how words are constructed from root sounds – which are the seed mantras. And why Sanskrit is a fluid language, which can be gravely serious at times, and playfully simple at others. We will also trace the origins of the language to a mother tongue that gave birth to Persian, European and Indic languages. We will notice similarities between English and Sanskrit and build a bridge across the West and East. The talk will not need any prior knowledge of Sanskrit. Lopa will try to be a bridge-builder between the West and East.


    Lopa Mukherjee is a writer and documentary maker. She did her schooling at the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education in Pondicherry. She has published three books and has made several documentaries on topics such as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s lives and on cultural, social and spiritual subjects. Lopa’s books include “The Soma People,, story of a man’s spiritual journey in mystic India; “Three Rivers of Tears,” the formation of nations from the Indian subcontinent and “East West Crossroads,” short stories of the cultural exchange between India and America. Lopa has presented on a variety of themes in several organizations, including the Cultural Integration Fellowship, San Francisco, and at SASP, Lodi. She also teaches Sanskrit and spiritual literature written in Sanskrit.