Biography of Nandini Iyer

Carolyn Dorrance – USA  

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Nandini Iyer

The author of the article, “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” is Professor Nandini Iyer. This scholarly essay was written in 2005 in tribute to her colleague and friend Professor Gerald Larson. It is representative of the many talks that she shared with a variety of educational and community groups in Europe and across the world. After graduation from Oxford University with a First Class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, she taught at the ancient university and, after moving to the U.S., taught classes in philosophy and comparative religions at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Those who listened to her teaching found much inspiration for contemplation and guidance in practical ethics.

As a student for more than seventy years of Theosophy,  Nandini Iyer co-founded with her husband Raghavan the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara and gave hundreds of talks that were clear, comprehensive and practical. The study groups that she led engaged generations of students in a deep opportunity to learn the metaphysics and ethics at the heart of Theosophy.

At the Institute of World Culture that she also co-founded with her husband, Raghavan, Nandini Iyer helped define and support the emergence of world culture. For 16 years, she offered an annual seminar on such eclectic topics as “The Cosmic Dance”, “Shankara on Reality and Illusion”, “Myth and Deliverance”, “Suffering and Transcendence in Mysticism”, and “Fearlessness on the Path of Nonviolence”  . Each talk or article she offered was constructed with philosophical logic and filled with insights into the timeless moral principles that can help humanity. Her brilliant mind was deepened by a gracious appreciation of other people’s points of view.  

Enriching everything she said and did was her knowledge and enjoyment of literature and the arts. Shakespeare and Shelley could be quoted, and the sacred literature of India recited. She understood how the liberal arts help us both understand suffering and refine our aspirations.. A conversation with her about a concert, play, performance or book was a treasured opportunity to learn about classical values and wise choices as well as everything that challenges them. What she taught, she lived with exquisite care as a master of virtues in action. Indeed, Nandini Iyer never missed a beat in her engagement with others or in her fulfillment of duties. She took many varied opportunities to share visionary ideas with young people in venues beyond the classroom.

Each life is precious. Each soul is immortal. Each mind is capable of true knowledge.

Each experience is an opportunity to learn and choose how we can serve others. That is the Theosophical teaching. Some become more wise, kind and compassionate as they make their way through the challenges of life in a physical body on earth. Thus, they become a beacon, illuminated by the finest spiritual Light and guided by true, moral principles in very practical ways. Such a one was Nandini Iyer who passed from this earth July 21, 2021, after 90 years of living in our midst.

For more biographical details click:

Tribute to a Teacher: The Life and Guidance of Nandini R. Iyer  

Other relevant links, click:

The Institute of World Culture

United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara



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