A black and white image of a woman and a man sitting down at a table. There is some kind of shrubbery in the background. The woman is wearing a head scarf covering. The man has a long beard and wears glasses. He is holding a cane and a hat. On the table is an small wicker basket that has been opened, and there is something indistinguishable inside it. At the bottom of the image, under each person, are their signatures.

Join Dr Sugata Nandi as he presents his 2020 National Library Fellowship research on theosophists and India from 1875 to 1950, and the resulting new interpretations and uses of Hinduism and Buddhism.

In 1879, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-91), an émigré Russia noblewoman, and Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), an American, reached India in search of knowledge of her two religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. In 1875 they had founded The Theosophical Society in New York, a spiritualist organisation that, by the 1900s, enjoyed a global presence and had turned Western esoteric quests to India and her two religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. Their quest led to radically new interpretations and uses of the religions which gave rise to a new, diverse and highly controversial body of knowledge on India as the proverbial Magical Orient.

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential. 

For those unable to make it to Canberra for the event, it will be livestreamed online via the Library's Facebook page. No bookings are required to watch the online stream.

Dr Sugata Nandi is a 2020 National Library of Australia Fellow supported by the Stokes Family.

Image: Blavatsky and Olcott, London, 1887

About Dr Sugata Nandi

Dr Sugata Nandi is Assistant Professor of History at the West Bengal State University, Kolkata, India, where he teaches Modern Indian History, Early Modern European political ideas, Western Historiography and Research Methodology. He has been a visiting research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities of the University of Edinburgh (2018) and a Fulbright–Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA (2011-12). He has recently been awarded the Junior Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study of Central European University, Budapest. which he will commence in early 2023. 

Type Fellowship presentation