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Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer was born in Madras, India on March 10, 1930, the son of Narasimhan Iyer and Lakshmi Iyer. He was educated at the Universities of Bombay and Oxford. At Bombay he received first class honors in Economics and won a variety of commendations and prizes, including the Chancellor's Medal. At the age of 18 he became the youngest lecturer in the University of Bombay, at Elphinstone College. After being awarded his master's degree in Advanced Economics in Bombay, he was sent as the sole Rhodes Scholar for India for 1950 to Magdalen College, Oxford. He secured First Class Honors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and later received the D. Phil. Degree in moral and political philosophy. While a student at Oxford, he was elected President of the Oxford Union, the Voltaire Society, the Oxford Majlis, the Oxford University Peace Association, the Oxford Social Studies Association and several other societies.
On returning to India, he served as Director of the Indian Institute of World Culture and as Associate Editor of the Aryan Path. He then served as Chief Research Officer for the Head of the Planning Commission of the Indian Government, and helped to elaborate the theory of democratic planning.
In 1956 he returned to Oxford, where he taught Moral and Political Philosophy for eight years. He was Fellow and Lecturer in Politics at St. Anthony's College, Oxford, and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Oslo, Ghana and Chicago. He also lectured at the College of Europe in Belgium, the Erasmus Seminar in Holland, and at Harvard, Bowdoin, Berkeley, U.C.L.A., Rand Corporation and the California Institute of Technology. He was actively associated with the world federalist movement in Europe, participated in many television and radio programmes of the B.B.C. and lectured at various international conferences in Sweden, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia and Japan.
He settled permanently in Santa Barbara in 1965, where he was a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara until his retirement in 1986. He became a Consultant to the Fund for the Republic, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Academy of World Studies and the Management Development Institute of the State of California. From 1971 to 1982 he was a member of the Club of Rome, and from 1978 to 1988 he was a member of the Reform Club in London. In the Spring of 1985 he was Alton Brooks Visiting Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California. He was also a member of the American Society for Legal and Political Philosophy, the International Society for Gandhian Studies and the International Society for Neo-Platonic Studies.
In Santa Barbara he expanded his Theosophical work that began in India at age ten when he first entered the orbit of the Theosophical Movement. Under his guiding influence, he initiated a number of innovative modes of Theosophical service through the auspices of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara. From 1975 to 1989 he was Editor-in-chief of the golden journal HERMES - the primary vehicle for promulgating the alchemical teachings of the 1975 Cycle with its unconditional devotion to the spiritual regeneration of humanity and its unswerving conviction in the existence of Masters of Wisdom as ideals and facts - and and he took a lead role in the creation of the incomparable articles in HERMES magazine. He was the Founder-President of the Institute of World Culture from 1976 to 1986, an organization inspired and guided by ten revolutionary principles brilliantly set forth in its 'Declaration of Interdependence'.
In December 1987 he visited Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Deputy Foreign Minister in Colombo, met President Jayawardene, senior Buddhist monks and community leaders, gave a post-Christmas message on television and spoke on "The Humanity of the Future" at the University of Colombo. In 1988 he visited the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, met Dr. Broadus Butler and Bishop Featherstone, and intoned the Gayatri mantram for the sake of all souls. In New Orleans he paid tribute to the memory of Louis Armstrong, the herald of 'the American Century'. In Savannah, Georgia he entered into a deep midnight meditation at the Pulaski monument by the sea, invoking myriad stars in accordance with ancient custom, on behalf of the disinherited billions upon this earth.
After five and one-half decades of service to the Theosophical Movement and to the emerging City of Man, Sri Raghavan Iyer passed away on June 20, 1995 in Santa Barbara, California. His profound insights into the spiritual promise and therapeutic trials of contemporary man, his radical proposals for creative modes of individual and collective growth, and his deep devotion to a new and more vibrant world culture will continue to resonate to myriad, receptive souls for generations and centuries to come.
Sri Raghavan Iyer's publications include Parapolitics - Toward the City of Man, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, The Society of the Future, The Glass Curtain, Novus Ordo Seclorum, The Jewel in the Lotus, The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (3 Volumes), The Descent of the Gods and The Essential Gandhi.