Richard L. Thompson [Sadaputa Dasa] (February 4, 1947–September 18, 2008) was a mathematician, scientist, philosopher, researcher of ancient cosmology, author, and devoted practitioner of bhakti-yoga. He was born in Binghamton, New York, and received a B.S. in mathematics and physics from State University of New York at Binghamton in 1969. He earned his M.A. in mathematics the following year at Syracuse University. In 1974, Thompson received his Ph.D. 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 an initiated disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement.
In his professional career, Thompson pursued research in quantum theory and mathematical biology, as well as NASA-funded research in satellite remote sensing. He produced nearly two-dozen peer reviewed scientific papers and co-authored a college textbook on computer modeling of biological systems. Thompson also worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, and as a research fellow and staff scientist at the La Jolla Institute in San Diego.
Thompson was a founding member of the scientific branch of ISKCON, the Bhaktivedanta Institute, where he published over fourteen technical papers on the study of the relationship between science and Vedanta. He also contributed over forty essays for a broad audience in Back to Godhead, “the magazine of the Hare Krishna movement.” Thompson extensively investigated ancient Indian astronomy, cosmology, and spirituality, and developed multimedia expositions on these topics. He wrote eight books on subjects ranging from consciousness to archeology and ancient astronomy.
Thompson was one of the founding members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI), initially established in 1975 under the directorship of Dr. T. D. Singh (Bhaktiswarupa Damodara Maharaja). He wrote many of the Institute’s early monographs and essays on the topics of consciousness, archeology, and cosmology. Thompson presented papers at the BI’s first conference held in Vrindavana, India (1977). He also presented a paper, “God and the Laws of Physics” at Bhaktivedanta Institute’s “World Congress of the Synthesis of Science and Religion” held in Mumbai (1986), and “A Trans-Temporal Approach to Mind-Brain Interaction,” at BI’s “The Study of Consciousness Within Science” conference (1990) hosted at the University of San Francisco.
In 1984, Thompson served as senior editor for the first edition of a Bhaktivedanta Institute project titled, Origins: Higher Dimensions in Science. Under his Vaisnava name, Sadaputa dasa, Thompson is also listed as senior researcher, with Madhavendra Puri dasa (Stephen Bernath) as assistant. Drutakarma dasa (Michael Cremo) and Bhutatma dasa (Austin Gordon, Ph.D.), contributed as authors along with Thompson. The editors presented the project as a non-technical review of current scientific theories of the origin of the universe, the origin of living organisms, and the nature of the conscious self. Our basic finding is that the reductionistic world view of modern science is by no means solidly established; we therefore outline an alternative view in which the world is understood to be only partially quantifiable and in which both purpose and spiritual qualities are granted existence.
In 1993, Thompson spoke at the 100th anniversary conference of the Chicago Parliament of World’s Religions on “The Relation Between Science and Religion: The Contribution of Gaudiya Vaisnavism.” Thompson printed the talk as a BI essay with the title, “Reflections on the Relationship Between Religion and Modern Rationalism.” It was similarly published as “Rational ‘Mythology’” in BTG 28.1 (1994) and in God & Science, (Thompson, 2004). Thompson presented another paper, “Anomalous Textual Artifacts in Archeo-astronomy,” at the 1996 World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) conference held in Atlanta.
Thompson published two BI themed papers in peer reviewed alternative science journals: “Numerical Analysis and Theoretical Modeling Of Causal Effects of Conscious Intention” (1991) in Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine,vii and “Planetary Diameters in the Surya-Siddhanta” (1997) in Journal of Scientific Exploration.viii Thompson commented that a number of his professional scientific papers also explored themes in relation to his BI research.
Christopher Beetle (Krishna Kripa dasa), a computer science graduate of Brown University, worked with Thompson as a Bhaktivedanta Institute research associate and production assistant, between 1988 and 2004.
Thompson passed away at his home in Alachua, Florida, on September 18, 2008. At the time he was working on exhibit proposals for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.