Founders of the Institute of World Culture
Santa Barbara, California


Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer Nandini Iyer

Parapolitics involves continuous rethinking of the foundations as well as the frontiers of conventional politics. The societies of the future will require a courageous transcendence of our habitual ways of marking the contours of politics. This implies a critical distance from the facts, a fearless recognition of the costs of commitment in different spheres, and a cheerful look at limits and possibilities in the never-ending quest for the City of Man.
— R. N. Iyer, Parapolitics

We need to explore whether and how not only ethics, but spiritual and broadly religious ideals, can be meaningfully taught and practiced, without being grounded in narrow, sectarian religious frameworks. Can we allow the state, as we have sometimes allowed religion, to take priority over individual conscience? Can we educate students into being ethical? These are problems, challenges and dilemmas upon which we need to reflect.
Nandini Iyer


Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer (1930–1995)

Raghavan Narasimhan Iyer was born in Madras, India on March 10, 1930, the son of Narasimhan Iyer and Lakshmi Iyer, and educated at the Universities of Bombay and Oxford. At Bombay, he received First Class Honors in Economics, and won a variety of honors and prizes, including the Chancellor's Medal, and at the age of 18 he became the youngest lecturer in the University of Bombay, at Elphinstone College. Having been awarded his master's degree in Advanced Economics in Bombay, he won, in 1950, India's only Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford. A student of Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford, he received his B.A. and M.A. with First Class Honors and was elected to the Presidency of the Oxford Union. He took his D. Phil in moral and political philosophy at Oxford, taught that subject as Via Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford for eight years, and was Visiting Professor at the Universities of Oslo, Ghana and Chicago, before becoming a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1965 until his retirement in 1986. In Santa Barbara he was an active member of the United Lodge of Theosophists, a Fellow of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (Fund for the Republic), a consultant to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a member of the Club of Rome, and the Founder and President of the Institute of World Culture. Professor Iyer's publications include The Glass Curtain, Utilitarianism and All That, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, Novus Ordo Seclorum, The Society of the Future, and Parapolitics: Toward the City of Man.

Nandini Iyer (1931–2021)

Nandini Iyer was born Nandini Mehta, to an accomplished and international family, in Ahmedabad, India. Her father received his advanced degree at Harvard, her mother was a distinguished novelist. All her family were part of the struggle for Indian Independence while she was growing up, close to their fellow Gujurati, Mohandas Gandhi, and because her father worked for the Indian Railways, she spent her girlhood in every corner of India. Having completed schooling at Bombay’s celebrated Cathedral and John Connon School, she went on to study Philosophy at Elphinstone College, Bombay, where she scored top honors and was voted, like her sister before her, “Miss Elphinstone.” She then went on to Oxford University, where, studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, she was one of a handful of students to earn a First Class honors degree, an attainment rarer and more difficult to achieve in those days than a summa cum laude. She taught philosophy and logic at Oxford for several years, appearing on programs for the BBC, and devoted to Spinoza and Plato, as well as to English Literature, until the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions brought her husband Raghavan and her and her son Pico to Santa Barbara in 1965. For more than forty years, she was a beloved and tireless teacher at the University of California Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College, while co-founding, with her husband, the Institute of World Culture, and constantly giving talks at temples and churches around town, and across the world. Nandini Iyer was a life-long student of the world's mystical traditions and of the teachings of M.K. Gandhi and has been involved with several schools committed to combating religious intolerance.