Chaudhuri, Haridas

Chaudhuri, Haridas
   follower of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo in the United States
   A professor of philosophy in India and later in California, Haridas Chaudhuri helped spark the growing American interest in Asian religion, phi-losophy, and culture by founding the influential Cultural Integration Fellowship and the Califor-nia Institute of Asian Studies, both of which have survived to the present day.
   Chaudhuri was born in May 1913 in Shya-magram in eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh). He was orphaned at an early age. In 1929, he won the Ramtanu Gold Medal in Bengali literature upon graduating from high school. He received his M.A. and B.A. with honors in philosophy and religion from Vidyasagar College in Calcutta (Kolkata). Dr. Chaudhuri married his wife, Bina, in 1946. In 1949 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta for a dissertation on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, “Integral Idealism.” Dr. Chaudhuri then became a professor and chair of the department of philosophy at Krishnagar Col-lege in Krishnagar.
   In March 1951, Dr. Chaudhuri immigrated to the United States upon the direct recommendation of Sri AUROBINDO, who had received a request from Dr. Frederick Spiegelberg of Stanford University to nominate someone for a position in the Ameri-can Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco, which was just opening. He was followed in the same year by his wife, Bina, and their two young children. Dr. Chaudhuri taught at this college for about 15 years along with several prominent scholars, including Alan Watts, who was later to become quite well known.
   Haridas Chaudhuri (1913–1975), scholar and founder of the Cultural Integration Fellowship and California Institute of Integral Studies (Cultural Integration Fellowship)
   Three months after he arrived in the United States Dr. Chaudhuri founded the Cultural Inte-gration Fellowship in San Francisco, with the aim of furthering universal religion, cultural harmony, and creative self-development. This was the first major ASHRAM in the country dedicated to the values of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The Cul-tural Integration Fellowship in 2001 celebrated its 50th birthday and still flourishes under the guid-ance of Bina Chaudhuri.
   In 1968 Dr. Chaudhuri founded the California Institute of Asian Studies in San Francisco (which in 1981 became the California Institute of Inte-gral Studies). This graduate school is devoted to the promotion of cultural understanding between East and West, offering masters’ and doctoral degrees in philosophy, psychology, Asian stud-ies, and interdisciplinary studies. Dr. Chaudhuri started an accreditation process for the school that reached its fruition in 1981, six years after his untimely death of a heart attack there in June 1975.
   Dr. Chaudhuri wrote numerous books in English. Among them are Modern Man’s Religion (1966), Philosophy of Integralism (1954), The Rhythm of the Truth (1958), Shri Aurobindo: Prophet of the Life Divine (1959), and Integral Yoga: The Concept of Harmonious and Creative Living (1965). He wrote two lesser known books in Bengali: Ma (1944) and Sri Auboinder Sadhana (1949).
   Dr. Haridas Chaudhuri had a strong impact on philosophical and religious studies and affairs in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond. He was host to Swami MUKTANANDA at the Cultural Integration Fellowship on one of the Swami’s first trips to the United States. He also played host there to the American spiritual figures Alan Watts, Ram Dass, and Sant Keshavadas. He hosted and provided venues for such famous musicians as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan in their early years of touring of the United States.
   Among his students and those he strongly influ-enced can be counted Michael Murphy, cofounder of Esalen Institute, and Michael Toms, founder of New Dimensions radio, both in California. Dr. Chaudhuri also kept up an active correspondence with his Asian friend U Thant, secretary-general of the United Nations in the 1960s.
   Further reading: Haridas Chaudhuri, Integral Yoga: The Concept of Harmonious and Creative Living (Wheaton, Ill. The Theosophical Publishing House, 1965); ———, Modern Man’s Religion (Santa Barbara, Calif.: J. F. Rowny Press, 1966).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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