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Updates From Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies

By: on June 26, 2021
News Briefs

Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies

We are still remodeling our recently acquired BIHS headquarters, the former home of the president of the University of Florida. Through the generosity of Dr. Howard J. Resnick (Hridayananda das Goswami), we have a permanent headquarters with a Vaishnava archivist and a significant library donated by retired professors. This place will serve as Dr. Resnick’s residence and as a retreat center where scholars can gather and collaborate. We also have access to the local city library and the full library of the University of Florida. Our scholars have been exploring issues in consciousness, cosmology, ethics, evolutionary theory, artificial intelligence, sustainability, and more. From this work, we intend to produce books and multimedia presentations.

We have formed a partnership with the Institute for Vaishnava Studies, publisher of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Sharing the media facilities and library at the BIHS house, the IVS will focus on the humanities, the BIHS on science. If you are interested in assisting the BIHS through scholarship, financial support, editorial assistance, social media, or other ways, please write to me directly at bobcohen@ivs.edu. We look forward to your comments and participation. 

BIHS ACQUIRES A LIBRARY

The BIHS is currently developing a substantial library, housed at our new headquarters in Gainesville. Initial contributions came from two retiring University of Florida professors, who donated their extensive academic libraries to the BI. A Vaishnava archivist also donated his extensive library, which includes original Bhaktivinoda editions, before his passing away. This seed library already contains over 3000 volumes, with many more on the way. Our library resources and our BI facilities will be dedicated as a research retreat for visiting scholars. In addition to this resource, local BI scholars have access to the entire University of Florida collection as well as the County’s vast public interlibrary loan network. 

LEGACY OF RICHARD L. THOMPSON PRESERVED

RLTARCHIVES.COM

Dr. Richard L. Thompson (1947–2008), also known by his Vaishnava name Sadaputa Dasa, was a mathematician, scientist, philosopher, author, researcher of ancient cosmology, and devoted practitioner of bhakti-yoga. In 1974 he received his PhD from Cornell University, where he specialized in probability theory and statistical mechanics. During this time, he found inspiration in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita and became a dedicated follower of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, popularly known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement. He later served as a founding member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. 

The archives of Richard L. Thompson reflect his interest in the discourse between science and religion concerning the natural world. The archives include articles he produced for peer-reviewed scientific journals and also writings exploring the theistic tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. As such, he was genuinely interested in the profound questions of the long discourse of science and religion and the natural world, with specific application to the Vaishnava tradition. Please click here for a fuller biography.

Alongside his prolific output, encompassing both his professional and Bhaktivedanta Institute work, Thompson kept extensive personal files. These materials, which were offered to the Archives by Thompson’s family, have been collected, digitized, and organized by S.E. Kreitzer, who holds a Ph.D. in the history of science, and Christopher Beetle, who served as Thompson’s research assistant for sixteen years. In 2015, Richard L. Thompson Archives (RLTA) formally incorporated with an aim to preserve the works and memory of Richard L. Thompson and make these resources available to interested parties. RLTA projects include, but are not restricted to, the systematic preservation and cataloging of his papers and other research materials, the creation and maintenance of the archival memorial website, the oral history project, as well as continuing research with reference to his legacy as a founding member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. With additional assistance from Saul Porecki and Prishni Sutton, other works by Thompson were gradually added to the collection, including 130 recorded lectures. In 2018, with assistance from Uddhi Marcoti, IT manager for Krishna.com, the Archives launched a  website (www.rltarchives.com), which includes historical documents key to the founding of the Bhaktivedanta Institute during the 1970s, along with a full collection of Thompson's essays for Back to Godhead (BTG), the official magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement, and links to other published works, including his professional papers and his proposals for planetarium and museum exhibits. The site is designed to provide access for ongoing research and independent study. It is clear that Thompson left a significant legacy that not only bequeathed an imprint upon many key ISKCON projects such as the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, but it also offers the potential to inspire future generations to do their own research on the big questions of life.

The RLTA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. The project wholeheartedly thanks Dr. Thompson’s family for generously making his personal papers available for continuing scholarship and thanks to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust for its timely grant that helped establish this project. 

For more info: https://bihstudies.org/

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