About the authors Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud
 


          Medhananda
Medhananda
Medhananda, 1908 - 1994, was born in Pforzheim, Germany. He learnt Latin and Greek and became fluent in English and French. Despite his early interest in ancient cultures and their symbols and spirituality he followed the wishes of his father and studied law at Munich, Heidelberg, and Paris. During this time he was privileged to study Chinese under the distinguished scholar Richard Wilhelm, translator of the Chinese I Ching, Tao Te Ching and many other ancient texts.

In 1934, although already launched on a promising legal career, he left Germany with his French wife to escape the rise of Nazism. They went to Tahiti in French Polynesia, settled on its sister island Moorea where they could buy 200 hectares of virgin forest, build a small house and establish themselves as farmers, cultivating vanilla and coffee. Their three children grew up in that paradise. In the radiant silence of that forest, Medhananda started to explore the levels of consciousness accessible to his self-awareness. He also had plenty of opportunity to explore the pre-Christian culture, the age-old gnosis of Polynesia. During the second world war he was interned near Tahiti as an enemy alien.

After his release in 1946 he came across the writings of the Indian philosopher and sage Sri Aurobindo, and in 1952 joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry (India) where he was put in charge of the Sri Aurobindo Library. For many years he taught History of Religions at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, a position he was well-qualified for by his life-long interest in and study of the spiritual cultures of different ages and parts of the world. In 1965 he became editor of the quarterly journal "Equals One", for which he wrote numerous articles.

In 1978 he founded together with Yvonne Artaud, his collaborator, the Identity Research Institute, a non-profit foundation for psychological research. It was from about 1970 onwards, that he started an in-depth exploration of the symbology of the hieroglyphs and pictorial imagery of ancient Egypt, using the psychological approach that his teacher Sri Aurobindo had initiated for the interpretation of the Indian Vedas (the ancient spiritual texts of India). Medhanada writes: Our work cannot be separated from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and what we have been able to experience of them, nor from his research into the deepest meaning of Vedic symbols.

The name Medhananda has been given to him by Mira Alfassa of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, also called The Mother. What does the name Medhananda mean? It is a program, an exercise, a transformation process: To let Ananda (felicity, bliss) flow into Medha, the mind.

         


           Yvonne Artaud
Yvonne Artaud
Yvonne Artaud, Medhananda's collaborator, was born 1924 in Lyon, France, was a dental surgeon for young children in Paris before she joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1952. There she became an educator and an artist. She painted and wrote poetry and plays.

From 1963 onwards she has been involved in research on the psychology of self-awareness, especially in pre-school children and South Indian primates. Author of numerous studies on animal psychology, as well as early childhood education, she is the creator of several innovative teaching-learning materials including the 'Aurograms', a symbol-language to be used as a means of self-expression and communication with very young children from different linguistic backgrounds. Her symbol games like 'The Tasks of Heracles' or 'The Great House' have proved to be of great psychological help in the development of children. Yvonne Artaud was Medhananda's amanuensis and editor and his partner in all his Egyptian research.
Photos of Medhananda and Yvonne Artaud