The Bengal Theosophical Society, Alliance francaise du Bengale, Iris Home Fragrances & Culture Monks are delighted to inaugurate the Cafe Philo sessions in Kolkata with a talk and discussion delivered/moderated by Ayon Maharaj at the iconic Bengal Theosophical Society Hall. We invite you cordially for this evening.

Ayon Maharaj – an young and dynamic philosopher, author & scholar has already previously delivered a talk (the challenge of the oceanic feeling: romain rolland’s mystical critique of psychoanalysis and his call for a “new science of the mind”) at Alliance francaise du Bengale, where he enthralled the audience with his charisma, mastery & eloquence. His talks are very accessible to non academic audience and we are looking forward with great excitement towards this session.

This Cafe Philo session will be held at The Bengal Theosophical Society on December 17, 2017 from 5 pm – 7  pm.

The address is

The Bengal Theosophical Society. 4/3A, Bankim Chandra Street, College Square, Kolkata, West Bengal 700073.

The talk will be Bengali & English.

Entry is free and all are most welcome

Synopsis of the Talk & Discussion

Integral Advaita: The Philosophies of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo by Ayon Maharaj


In my talk, I will discuss some of the main similarities and differences in the philosophical worldviews of the modern Bengali mystics Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) and Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). Both Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo champion what I call “Integral Advaita,” a world-affirming Advaitic philosophy that conceives the Supreme Reality as both personal and impersonal and that views the world as a real manifestation of Śakti. I contrast the Integral Advaita of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo with Śaṅkara’s world-negating Advaita Vedānta, which conceives the Supreme Reality only as the impersonal non-dual Brahman and which dismisses the world as unreal. Both Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo adopt an integral approach to sādhana on the basis of their Integral Advaitic ontology. They affirm that jñānayoga, bhaktiyoga, rājayoga, and karmayoga are all direct and independent means of attaining salvation. By contrast, Śaṅkara adopts the hierarchical view that jñānayoga is the only direct path to salvation but that the other three yogas lead indirectly to salvation by helping one acquire the competence to practice jñānayoga.

About Ayon Maharaj

Ayon Maharaj, Department of Philosophy, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University


PhD, English, 2009
BA summa cum laude with Highest Honors in English (minor in philosophy), 2002
Fulbright Scholar at the Institut für Philosophie, 2006-2007


Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion(under contract with Oxford University Press).
The Dialectics of Aesthetic Agency: Revaluating German Aesthetics from Kant to Adorno
(London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013; paperback reissue, 2014).
Reviewed in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, British Journal for the History of
Philosophy, and Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal


American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting Travel Grant, 2017
Dharma Civilization Foundation Research Grant, 2017
AAS-in-Asia Travel Grant for Kyoto Conference, 2016
Franklin Postdoctoral Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, 2010
Dean’s Normative Time Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2008
Fulbright Scholarship, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2006
Barbara H. Kurtz Award for outstanding achievement in PhD Program, 2006
English Department travel grant for language study in Germany, Summer 2005
Chancellor’s Fellowship for PhD study, University of California, Berkeley, 2003-2006
Award for outstanding achievement in undergraduate major, UC Berkeley, 2002
WISC Scholarship for study at University of Oxford, 2000


“Yogic Mindfulness,” Sri Sri University, Cuttack, Orissa, September 2017.
“Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa’s Philosophy of Vijñāna Vedānta,” Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley,
California, May 2017.
“The Challenge of the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Mystical Critique of Psychoanalysisand His Call for a ‘New Science of the Mind,’” Alliance Française du Bengal, Kolkata, India, May 2017.
“Sri Ramakrishna’s Doctrine of the Harmony of All Religions,” Vichar Manthan, Sunnyvale,
California, USA, April 2017.
“Mysticism without the Mustikos?: A Critique of Stephen Palmquist’s ‘Mystical’ Kant,” Author Meets Critics Panel, American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting, Seattle,Washington, USA, April 2017.
“Sri Ramakrishna’s Doctrine of the Harmony of All Religions,” American Consulate, Kolkata, India, March 2017.
“Two Spiritual Paradigms for Art: Sri Aurobindo and Theodor Adorno,” The Language of Art Conference, North Bengal University, India, February 2017.
“The Challenge of the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Mystical Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a ‘New Science of the Mind,’” ICCSAE International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Meaning, Art, and Culture, Derozio Memorial College, Kolkata, India, January 2017.
3“The Challenge of the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Mystical Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a ‘New Science of the Mind,’” Asian Studies Conference in Japan, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, July 2016.
“Toward a Cross-Cultural Theodicy: Sri Ramakrishna’s Multidimensional Response to the
Problem of Evil,” AAS-in-Asia Conference at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan,
June 2016.
“‘God Is Infinite, and the Paths to God Are Infinite’: A Reconstruction and Defense of Sri
Ramakrishna’s Vijñāna-Based Model of Religious Pluralism,” International Conference on the Sociology of Religion in a Pluralistic Society, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, April 2016.
“Toward a More Robust Religious Pluralism: Bringing Sri Ramakrishna into Dialogue with John Hick,” ICCSAE International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Knowledge, Morality, and Spirituality, Vedic Village, Kolkata, India, Jan. 2016.
“Buddhist Śūnyavāda and Advaita Vedānta,” Seminar on Buddhism, Monastic Probationers’ Training Center, Belur Math, Howrah, India, July 2013.
“The Methodology and Argument of Śrī Harṣa’s Khaṇdanakhaṇdakhādya,” Navya-Nyāya
Workshop, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, India, June 2012.
Participant in roundtable, “How to Get Published in PMLA,” Modern Language Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, December 2008.
“The Problem of Aesthetic Pleasure in Kant’s ‘Analytic of the Beautiful,’” International Graduate Philosophy Conference, Johns Hopkins University, March 2008.
“Aporien des ästhetischen Wohlgefallens in Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft” (presented in
German), Forschungskolloquium, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, February 2007.
“Why Poetry Matters: The Transpersonal Force of Lyric Experience in Ezra Pound’s The Pisan Cantos,” Twentieth-Century Literature Conference, University of Kentucky, February 2005.
“Adorno’s Revenge” (response paper), Panel on New Technologies, Berkeley-Stanford English Conference, May 2004.


Fluency in German and Bengali and reading proficiency in Sanskrit, Pāli, and French

About The Bengal Theosophical Society

The Bengal Theosophical Society was formed on April 6, 1882 , seven years after The Theosophical Society was officially formed in New York City, United States, on 17 November 1875 . The history of the Theosophical movement and indeed that of its Bengal Chapter is the exciting and vibrant. and is closely linked to that of the Freedom movement which finally culminated in an Independence of India from its colonial government.

The Theosophists arrived in Bombay with the hope of forging an universal brotherhood, which was basically ¨an effort to get the purest´ men from all religion to come together under an umbrella to work towards an universal cause.¨ In failing  in their incipient objectives, due to immensity of the diversity Indian thought the theosophist adopted the goal for immersing themselves in occult sciences  and also  in oriental literature and philosophy to gain a deeper understanding of the society.

This program is supported by Iris Home Fragrance

Iris Home Fragrance products are available at all Spencers & Pantaloons outlets.



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