- Category : 1907-births
- Type : MEG
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (17)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 3
French historian, intellectual, musicologist, Indologist, and a noted Western convert to and expert on Shaivite Hinduism. He was also a photographer and artist.
In 1932, he and his partner, Swiss photographer Raymond Burnier, first went to India as part of an adventure trip, and they were fascinated with the art and culture of the nation. Daniélou and Burnier were among the first Westerners to visit India's famed erotic temples in the village of Khajuraho and Burnier's stunning photographs of the ancient temple complex launched the site internationally. The photographs were featured in an exhibition at the New York's Metropolitan Museum.
During his first trip to India, Daniélou met one of the people who most influenced him: the poet Rabindranath Tagore. His close association with Rabindranath Tagore lead to him being the director of Tagore’s school of music at Shantiniketan (Visva-Bharati University). Subsequently in 1935, he joined the Banaras Hindu University, where he studied Hindu music, Sanskrit, Indian philosophy and Hindu religion for the next 15 years. In 1949, he was appointed as a research professor at the University, a post he held until 1953.
During these years, he studied Indian classical music in Varanasi with Shivendranath Basu and played the veena, which he started playing professionally. He also studied Hindi, Sanskrit languages as well as Indian philosophy. His interest in the symbolism of Hindu architecture and sculpture, lead to long trips with Burnier to Khajuraho, Bhubaneswar and Konarak, sites in central India and Rajasthan. He also translated some works of Swami Karpatri by whom he was initiated into Shaivism under the name Shiva Sharan (Protected by Shiva).
Upon his return to Europe in 1960, he was appointed an adviser to UNESCO's International Music Council, which led to a number of recordings of traditional music. In 1966, he became the founder and director of the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation in West Berlin, where he remained till 1977; he also remained the director of the Istituto Internazionale di Musica Comparata in Venice from 1969 to 1982.
He worked on classical Indian music. But his more important contribution to Indology is his writings on the ancient wisdom of the Veda, Hindu philosophy, and Shaivism. He is the author of over thirty books on Indian music and culture. He received several awards for his work on music.
In 1991, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.
Alain Daniélou died on 27 January 1994, aged 86, in Lonay, Switzerland.