Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies

The Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI) was formed in 1976 to facilitate meaningful dialogue between science and the ancient wisdom of India. From this dialogue, mutual insights have arisen, along with significant publications, research, and proceedings. Several past conferences sponsored by the BI have brought together scientists and philosophers, including a number of Nobel Laureates, to explore areas of mutual interest.

The late Richard L. Thompson, PhD summarized the mission of the BI succinctly: “By bringing together modern scientific ideas and Vedic literature, many interesting ideas arise. It is widely believed that there is a fundamental conflict between science and religion, and that this can be reconciled only by either drastically editing religion to agree with science or drastically doing violence to science in order to bring it in line with religion. However … science and religion can [also] cross-fertilize one another and give rise to possible fruitful ideas that might not have been thought of from the standpoint of science or religion, taken separately.”

Our Team

Martin Fleming was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1954 and studied architecture at Bristol University. In 1975 he entered an ashram in the UK to study Vedanta philosophy and took monastic vows. He served as Principal of Bhaktivedanta Manor theological college from 1982-1995. He has served on the Central Religious Advisory Board for the BBC and has been a regular contributor on BBC since 1989. As an original committee member of Inter-faith Network, he served on the working committee producing guidelines on proselytising and promotion of faith. Since its acquisition in 1996, he has been the director of Buckland Hall, Wales, an open venue for spiritual, philosophical and personal development and training. Currently he is also involved as a trustee of the Hindu Educational Authority, which presently oversees seven Hindu-faith schools and academies in London and Midlands; as a founder-member of the Science and Philosophy Initiative, a multi-disciplinary association exploring the issues of consciousness & physical systems principally in neuroscience, biology & physics as well as the related issues of ethics, applications & technology; and as a member of Faith & AI, a think-tank consultation on the issues of AI in society. His specialised area of interest is the nature of consciousness.

Bob Cohen was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1949, completed his B.S. in Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1971, and received his M.S. in Geology from Rutgers University in 1975. After a twenty-year career serving as a geologist and vice-president of a large regional environmental company, he currently works as an environmental consultant to state governments. He has been a member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute since the inception in 1976, giving a presentation at their First International Conference on Life Comes from Life in 1977, and working on a multitude of projects with R.L. Thompson (Sadaputa) from 1995 through 2008.  He is also a certified court mediator. He now serves as the Director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies.

Mauricio Garrido was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1979, graduated from the Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and in Physics in 2003, and earned a black belt in Kobayashi Shorin-ryu Karate. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Ohio University, has served an internship at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, completed a postdoc at Columbia University, and has taught Sanskrit at the University of Florida. In 2006, he began exploring the teachings of Bhakti yoga in Gaudiya Vaishnavism and in 2011, he entered the monastic order at The Bhakti Center, located in New York City, where he later became ordained as a monk.  As a member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies (BIHS) since 2015, he develops courses on Bhakti and Science, including Vedic concepts of cosmography, consciousness, and physics. He has presented at universities and international conferences. Dr. Garrido's present research includes Puranic cosmology, Vaisnava philosophy, quantum field  and information theory, general relativity, consciousness studies, and the philosophy of mind.

Ryan Bissett was born in London, United Kingdom, in 1983. He graduated from Imperial College London with a BSc in Biology in 2004. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Parasitology from Glasgow University. Between 2005-2009, he worked within the biotechnology industry, covering the fields of immunology and stem cell research. In 2014, he began exploring the teachings of Bhakti-yoga in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In 2017 he helped to found the Science and Philosophy Initiative - a multi-disciplinary association exploring the questions of consciousness and physical systems, principally in neuroscience, biology and physics. His current research interests are centred around molecular biology and the history & philosophy of biology.