by S. E. Kreitzer
Dr. Richard L. Thompson (1947–2008), also known by his Vaishnava name Sadaputa Dasa, was a mathematician, scientist, philosopher, author, researcher of ancient cosmology, and devoted practitioner of bhakti-yoga. In 1974 he received his PhD from Cornell University, where he specialized in probability theory and statistical mechanics. During this time, he found inspiration in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita and became a dedicated follower of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, popularly known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement. He later served as a founding member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. Please click here for a fuller biography.
The archives of Richard L. Thompson reflect his interest in the discourse between science and religion concerning the natural world. The archives include articles he produced for peer-reviewed scientific journals and also writings exploring the theistic tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. As such, he was genuinely interested in the profound questions of the long discourse of science and religion and the natural world, with specific application to the Vaishnava tradition.
Alongside his prolific output, encompassing both his professional and Bhaktivedanta Institute work, Thompson kept extensive personal files. These materials, which were offered to the Archives by Thompson’s family, have been collected, digitized, and organized by S.E. Kreitzer, who holds a PhD in the history of science, and Christopher Beetle, who served as Thompson’s research assistant for sixteen years. In 2015, Richard L. Thompson Archives (RLTA) formally incorporated with an aim to preserve the works and memory of Richard L. Thompson and make these resources available to interested parties. RLTA projects include, but are not restricted to, the systematic preservation and cataloging of his papers and other research materials, the creation and maintenance of the archival memorial website, the oral history project, as well as continuing research with reference to his legacy as a founding member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute. With additional assistance from Saul Porecki and Prishni Sutton, other works by Thompson were gradually added to the collection, including 130 recorded lectures. In 2018, with assistance from Uddhi Marcotte, IT manager for Krishna.com, the Archives launched a website (www.rltarchives.com), which includes historical documents key to the founding of the Bhaktivedanta Institute during the 1970s, along with a full collection of Thompson’s essays for Back to Godhead (BTG), the official magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement, and links to other published works, including his professional papers and his proposals for planetarium and museum exhibits. The site is designed to provide access for ongoing research and independent study. It is clear that Thompson left a significant legacy that not only bequeathed an imprint upon many key ISKCON projects such as the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, but it also offers the potential to inspire future generations to do their own research on the big questions of life.
The RLTA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. The project wholeheartedly thanks Dr. Thompson’s family for generously making his personal papers available for continuing scholarship and thanks to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust for its timely grant that helped establish this project.