Articles, Lectures & Academic Papers
Writings & Lectures
The following is a comprehensive list of G.V. Desani's writings and lectures and access options for potential researchers.
All About H. Hatterr (originally All About Mr. Hatterr)
Many of Desani's short stories were first published in The Illustrated Weekly of India in the 1960s. Many of these were republished in Hali and Collected Stories, McPherson and Company, New York, 1991.
The Valley of Lions
This Shrub, This Child of God
The Lama Arupa
A New Bridge of Plenty
The Fiend Screams "Kyā Chāhate Ho?"
With Malice Aforethought
The Last Long Letter
A Border Incident
The Barber of Sāhibsarāi
The Pansārī's Account of the Incident
Correspondence with Sister Jay
Country Life, Country Folk, Cobras, Thok!
The Merchant of Kisingarh
The Second Mrs. was Wed in a Nightmare
Since a Nation Must Export, Smithers!
Gipsy Jim Brazil to Kumari Kishino
For two years in the 1960s The Illustrated Weekly of India published Desani's unsigned column "Very High" and "Very Low". These columns — as with all of Desani's writings, copyrighted by the author — were subsequently revised for eventual inclusion in an anthology of his writings. The columns provided here as a courtesy to Desani researchers are for the most based on the original columns.
"Very High" and "Very Low" topics fell roughly into three categories: Nari text / Yoga related; social commentary; and world travelogue. To provide some context, the columns were written during the author's transition from more than a decade of strenuous and private sādāna. Returning to India from Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) Desani's reputation as a spiritual adept preceded him and grew further as he started writing and speaking about his experiences and conclusions.
Never one to suffer fools gladly, Desani became increasingly frustrated by the worshipful attention he received from acquaintances and friends-of-friends. Also never one to let an experience which could be turned into good copy go begging, Desani took the opportunity afforded by the columns to not-so-gently opine on the earthy intentions and ambitions of his acquaintances, hosts and others he encountered as he traveled about India.
In 1967 Desani was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach in the U.S. At that point the column ended. After a semester at the University of Texas at Austin, he accepted an appointment as a full professor of philosophy (Eastern) and eventually became a U.S. citizen.
India for the Plain Hell of It, The New Yorker, June 23, 1997, India issue.
The Illustrated Weekly of India, mostly 1960-1968 (partial list):
Goan, Meet a Samoan!, March 1, 1964.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a review of Christopher Isherwood's Ramakrishna and His Disciples, May 1, 1966.
No Reason, No Rhyme, an occasional poem/essay column which ran between 1964 and 1967.
A full-length contribution to a political postmortem, Jawaharlal Nehru: An Assessment (1965).
I Believe ..., K. Singh (ed.), 11 pages in a composite essay book, Hind Kitab, Delhi, 1974. The I Believe essays also appeared over several issues in The Illustrated Weekly of India. G.V. Desani's "I Believe" essay was subtitled An Indian View of God, Cosmos, Love, Marriage, Sex, et cetera.
Modern Indian Poetry in English, An Anthology, P. Lal (ed.), two verses with notes (pp. 127-134), Calcutta, 1969.
T.S. Eliot, nine pages (with others), Calcutta, 1970.
ACLAL Bulletin, "Rudyard Kipling's Evaluation of His Mother," (University of Mysore), Fourth Series, No. 3, January, 1976. Published in Hali and Collected Stories (McPherson Press).
Boston University Journal, "Down with Philosophy," January, 1979. Also published in Hali and Collected Stories (McPherson Press) and previously contributed to the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Philosophy.
Colloquium, Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, "On Civil Disobedience (As a Means of Attaining Social and Political Ends as Practiced in South Africa and India Under the Leadership of M.K. Gandhi)", Nov. 16, 1979.
University College Quarterly, "A Passage to MidWest U.S.A. – Fly High to Chicago!", p. 24, Michigan State University, East Lansing, May, 1979.
Papers, Essays and Comments, 1968-1979
Dept. of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin and Dept. of Religion, Boston University:
"Rudyard Kipling's Evaluation of His Mother," 1968. Published in Hali and Collected Stories (McPherson Press).
"Down With Philosophy," 1970. Also published in Hali and Collected Stories (McPherson & Co.).
"The Mandatory Interview With the Dean," also published in Hali and Collected Stories (McPherson & Co.).
Indian Horizons, Mostly Concerning Kāmā and her Immortal Lord, Vol. xxii, No. 1, January, 1973, India Council of Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 1973, 42 pp., with illustrations. In due course translated into Arabic, Spanish, and French. A version of Mostly Concerning Kāmā… with the original illustrations is also provided.
The Yellow Text of Theravada Buddhism, a classroom anthology compiled by Prof. G.V. Desani, printed in Austin with permission of Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1973. Includes several instructor's notes:
Excepts from the Class Prospectus (1937)
On the Doctrine of Anatta and the Bodhisattva Ideal
Introduction in Buddhist Techniques
Vinnana Kiccha (text and comments)
"Guru Paramparā," publication date and venue unknown. Possibly previously unpublished.
"The Nādi Shāstra," publication date and venue unknown. Possibly developed as a chapter in Desani's planned Rissala, the contents were based primarily on the first six columns of "Very High" and "Very Low", The Illustrated Weekly of India.
"Māntra and Tāntra," publication date and venue unknown. Possibly previously unpublished.
"A No-Image Image," paper read at the Symposium in Comparative World Humanities, Michigan State University, East Lansing, May, 1976, sponsored by the Honors College, College of Arts and Letters, the University College and the Asian Center under a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
"The Incredible Baba Visvanath," publication date and venue not known. Possibly previously unpublished.
"Certain Difficulties in Communicating an Oriental to a Western Audience," paper read to the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, Fourth Triennial Conference, Jawaharlal University, New Delhi, January, 1977.
"Seminar on 'Mind'," jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Planning, Government of India, Center for Theoretical Studies, Indian Institute of Science, National Institute of Health and NeuroScience and the Institute of Comparative Religion and Philosophy, Jammu, Kashmir, January, 1977.
"A Marginal Comment on the Problem of Medium in Bicultures," paper presented to the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Languages Studies, University of Malta, April, 1978. This and other presentations at the conference were collected in Individual and Community in Commonwealth Literature, Daniel Massa, Old University Press, Malta, 1979. The "Marginal Comment…" paper was later presented to or distributed through the Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin.
"Theravada Buddhism," (outline with bibliography), Department of Religion, Boston University, 1979.
"Patanjali's Raja Yoga," (outline with bibliography), Department of Religion, Boston University, 1979.
Lectures & Interviews
"India Invites," New College, Oxford and Trinity College, Cambridge, 1941.
"Patanjala Yoga Philosophy," Rhodes House, Oxford.
Vipassanā Bhāvanā, Yoga, and Other Topics, Rangoon, Burma, Residence of the Ambassador of Israel, January, 1961.
First year lectures on Theravada Buddhism and yoga, University of Texas at Austin, 1968 (taped, possibly transcribed).
"Indian Occultism," University of Chicago, 1968.
"Technique in All About H. Hatterr," University of Sussex, 1970.
"Indian Cultural Values Versus Western Cultural Values," the Embassy of India, Moscow, U.S.S.R., 1970.
"How Does Crisis in Civilization Affect India?", three lectures to Plan II students, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, 1971.
"Quality of Life," faculty-student discussion, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, 1971.
"Bhakti Yoga, Its Theory and Technique," Southwestern Conference on Asian Studies, University of Houston, Houston, Oct., 1975.
"The Novel As Gesture," Fourth Triennial conference of Commonwealth Literature and Languages Studies, New Delhi, Jan., 1977.
Lecture, the Mahabodhi Society of India, Calcutta, April 1, 1977.
"The Benares That Was," literary magazine ANON, 1970. Subsequently prepared for publication under the title "Benares Thrice Hallowed."
"Varanasi: the City of God," was presented at the 13th annual Boston University Institute for Religion and Philosophy, 1981. (Originally entitled "Benares, City of God.")
Guided discussion, "Cross-Cultural Encounter in Literature," University of Texas at Austin Dept. of Philosophy Spring colloquy, 1979.
"Gandhi's Challenge to Authority," and "Has India Anything to Teach to the United States?", announcements of public lectures, sponsored by President John Silber, President, Boston University, 1981.
A two-part taped interview, July, 1989, recorded as Desani turned 80. Currently available on YouTube:
For decades Desani kept a journal which at his death comprised many documents. Some — or all — of these papers were donated to the University of Texas at Austin Ransom Center in 2007. Desani's last published piece, India for the Plain Hell of It, The New Yorker, June 23, 1997, utilized excerpts from his journals to provide an autobiographical narrative of his return to India in the early '50s.
Other Activities and Honors
All About H. Hatterr was a textbook in courses taught at American University, Leeds University (1969), University of Sussex (1969), and University of Mysore.
British Council Library, inclusion in the exhibition of All About H. Hatterr (Penguin Modern Classics edition), Bombay, July, 1977.
Room dedicated to the convenience of Tibetan pilgrims to holy places, Calcutta, Maha Bodhi Society, on behalf of a University of Texas class member in memory of G.V. Desani's Theravada Buddhism classes.
Original Tamilian palm leaf manuscript, titled Naradanadi, donated to Boston University in 1981.
European Illustration, 1983, jury selection of the cover (in color) by Catherine Denvir for Penguin Books (King Penguin) of G.V. Desani's All About H. Hatterr.