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I spent a long summer in 1998 researching the life of Mr Pirsig. Here is some little known trivia - some of the years when he disappeared, were spent in Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi, India) with Prof Mukherjee (head of the philosophy department) learning about Indian (Hindu) philosophy. I met Prof MUkherjee, who was retired by the time I went looking for him. I tracked him down and asked him if he remembered Mr Robert Pirsig (I took a picture that I had printed from the internet). He told me about a curious "American fellow" who used to "audit" the classes in the philosophy department, hang around the library and the canteen - and would seek him out to have discussions with him. He said that he was very quiet and nice guy.

Interestingly, Prof Mukherjee had no idea that Mr Pirsig has written this cult book or that he was a famous author/philosopher. To him, he was just an odd student (because of his age).

I wrote about this in our campus newspaper - but no one cared. I thought that I was the only fan of Mr Pirsig in this small town in India. Once I found the internet I discovered that I wasn't alone. It was a great feeling.

Anyway, i was very proud that he went to the same university that i went to. It was exciting to learn that in 1998! Also, while i didn't fully get the philosophy-the father and son journey in Zen really meant a lot to me while growing up.

Edit: by the way, Prof Mukherjee is mentioned in his book "Lila", and that is how I found him.

Edit2: "Lila", the name of Mr Pirsig's second book, seems to have been inspired by his stay in Varanasi (India). In Sanskrit, the word Lila is "a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine". Someone on Wikipedia also seems to have made this connection: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lila:_An_Inquiry_into_Morals

Edit3: I spent the last hour digging into a 15-year-old hard drive (oh, what painful fun). I found a folder with my notes on Robert Pirsig! Most interestingly, my meeting notes with Dr. Mukherjee. I gave him the book and he flipped through the chapter for 20 minutes reading the sections I had underlined (where his name was mentioned). This frail man of seventy, said with a smile on his face: "He must not have been an attentive student. I never taught him this way". Most of the notes are about him reminiscing about the "golden years" of the philosophy department when according to him many great philosophers came to visit and study at the philosophy department at Banaras Hindu University.




Perhaps you should put your notes online?


Yes, I'm also interested :)




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