- Tyberg, Judith M.
- (1902–1980)Theosophist and U.S. Sri Aurobindo discipleJudith Tyberg was a convert to Hinduism who worked to introduce the faith to the West.Judith was born on May 17, 1902, in Califor-nia. Her parents were both Danish Theosophists; her mother reportedly chanted a Vedic hymn to the entering soul throughout her pregnancy carry-ing Judith. Her parents sent her to the THEOSOPHI-CAL SOCIETY’s Point Loma Raja Yoga School and the Theosophical University. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion and Philosophy with a concen-tration in Oriental thought and SANSKRIT studies. While working on her degrees, she began to teach at the Raja Yoga School. In 1932 she became its assistant principal, a position she left to become the dean of studies at the Theosophical University in 1935.As a scholar, she began to work on the SAN-SKRIT terms that had been introduced into Theo-sophical teachings. Her first book, Sanskrit Keys to the Wisdom-Religion, appeared in 1940.In 1947, Tyberg moved to India to pursue fur-ther studies at Benares Hindu University and to follow a spiritual quest that was leading her from Theosophy to Hinduism. Soon after her arrival, she was introduced to the writings of SRI AUROBINDO. Impressed, she traveled to Pondicherry and met the MOTHER, who related to Judith that both she and K 458 Turiyasangitananda, SwamiAurobindo had awaited her arrival. At the touch of the Mother’s hand, Judith felt electric forces go through her being. Judith asked the Mother for a spiritual name and was given a piece of paper on which, in Aurobindo’s handwriting, was writ-ten Jyotipriya (lover of light). While she would encounter a number of prominent Indian teachers over the next years, including ANANDAMAYI MA, Swami SHIVANANDA of RISHIKESH, Sri KRISHNA PREM, and RAMANA MAHARSHI, she had found her gurus in Aurobindo and the Mother.Jyotipriya returned to the United States in 1950 and opened the East-West Cultural Center in Los Angeles in 1953, the first Aurobindo center in America. Eminent teachers from India, includ-ing Swami RAMDAS, Mother KRISHNABAI, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Puri, Dilip Roy, Indra DEVI, Swami MUKTANANDA, Swami SATCHIDANANDA, and Swami VISHNUDEVANANDA, visited and lectured there. Besides offering regular meetings to share Aurobindo’s teaching, the center became a wel-coming place for Indian teachers to meet Western-ers and to offer initial presentations of their ideas and practices.She continued to work in Los Angeles until her death on October 3, 1980. The East-West Cultural Center evolved into the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles and continues to the present.Further reading: Judith Tyberg, First Lessons in Sanskrit Grammar and Reading (Covina, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1944); ———, The Language of the Gods: Sanskrit Keys to India’s Wisdom (Los Angeles, Calif.: East-West Cultural Centre, 1970); ———, San-skrit Keys to the Wisdom-Religion (Point Loma, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1940).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.