Monday, February 20, 2012

Poets, Prophets, Sculptors, Painters, Architects, Composers, Mystics, Authors, Playwrights, Mathematicians, Astronomers....

From Parabola:

Saturday, February 18
Ramakrishna (February 18, 1836 – August 16, 1886), born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, was a famous mystic of 19th-century India. His religious school of thought led to the formation of theRamakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda – both were influential figures in the Bengali Renaissance as well as the Hindu renaissance during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of his disciples and devotees believe he was an avatar or incarnation of God. He is also referred as "Paramahamsa" by his devotees, meaning "Great Swan."

Ramakrishna was born in a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal. He became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition. His first spiritual teacher was an ascetic woman skilled in Tantra and Vaishnava bhakti. Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, and according to Ramakrishna, he experienced nirvikalpa samadhi under his guidance. Ramakrishna also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God. Though conventionally uneducated, he attracted the attention of the middle class and numerous Bengali intellectuals.

Sunday, February 19
Nicolaus Copernicus 
Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe.

Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the scientific revolution. His heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of science that is often referred to as the Copernican Revolution.

Among the great polymaths of the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, quadrilingual polyglot, classical scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist. Among his many responsibilities, astronomy figured as little more than an avocation—yet it was in that field that he made his mark upon the world.

Monday, February 20
Ansel Adams 
Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American photographer and environmentalist, best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West, especially in Yosemite National Park. One of his most famous photographs wasMoon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California.

With Fred Archer, Adams developed the Zone System as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs and the work of those to whom he taught the system. Adams primarily used large-format cameras despite their size, weight, setup time, and film cost, because their high resolution helped ensure sharpness in his images.

Adams founded the Group f/64 along with fellow photographers Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham, which in turn created theMuseum of Modern Art's department of photography. Adams's photographs are reproduced on calendars, posters, and in books, making his photographs widely distributed.

Tuesday, February 21
Mirra Alfassa 
Mirra Alfassa, later Mirra Morisset and Mirra Richard (February 21, 1878 - November 17, 1973), also known as The Mother, was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo.

She came to Sri Aurobindo's retreat on March 29, 1914 in Pondicherry, India to collaborate on editing the journal Arya. Having to leave Pondicherry during World War I, she spent most of her time in Japan where she met the poet Rabindranath Tagore. Finally she returned to Pondicherry and settled there in 1920. After November 24, 1926, when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, she founded his ashram (Sri Aurobindo Ashram), with a handful of disciples living around the Master. With Sri Aurobindo's full approval she became the leader of the community, a position she held until her death. The Trust she had registered after Sri Aurobindo's death in 1950 continues to look after the institution.

The experiences of the last thirty years of Alfassa's life were captured in the 13-volume work The Agenda. In those years she attempted the physical transformation of her body in order to become what she felt was the first of a new type of human individual by opening to the Supramental Truth Consciousness, a new power of spirit that Sri Aurobindo had allegedly discovered. Sri Aurobindo considered her an incarnation of the Mother Divine, hence her followers calling her "the Mother." The Divine Mother is believed by some to be the feminine aspect (Creative Energy) of the Divine consciousness and spirit.

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