As of c.1993 a resident of Toronto, Kaushalya Bannerji is the daughter of respected activist and intellectual Himani Bannerji. In her article: A Lotus of Another Color, she delved with the cultural complexities sexuality adds to one's sense of self, and identity especially coming from a social conservative society. The dilemma is enhanced by the willingness of many lesbians to keep their cultural identity and roots, while confronting the jaundiced opinions of sexuality from the individual's societies.
Youth and education
Alpert was born to a Jewish family in Newton, Massachusetts. His father, George Alpert, was a lawyer in Boston, president of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, one of the founders of Brandeis University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as a major fundraiser for Jewish causes. While Richard did have a bar mitzvah, he was "disappointed by its essential hollowness". He considered himself an atheist and did not profess any religion during his early life, describing himself as “inured to religion. I didn’t have one whiff of God until I took psychedelics.”
Alpert attended the Williston Northampton School, graduating in 1948 as a part of the Cum Laude Association. He then went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University, a master's degree from Wesleyan University, and a doctorate (in psychology) from Stanford University.
Harvard professorship and the Leary-Alpert research
After returning from a visiting professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, Alpert accepted a permanent position at Harvard, where he worked with the Social Relations Department, the Psychology Department, the Graduate School of Education, and the Health Service, where he was a therapist. Perhaps most notable was the work he did with his close friend and associate Timothy Leary. Leary and Alpert were formally dismissed from the university in 1963. According to Harvard President Nathan M. Pusey, Leary was dismissed for leaving Cambridge and his classes without permission or notice, and Alpert for allegedly giving psilocybin to an undergraduate.
Spiritual search and name change
In 1967 Alpert traveled to India, where he traveled with the American spiritual seeker Bhagavan Das, and ultimately met the man who would become his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, whom Alpert called "Maharaj-ji". It was Maharaj-ji who gave him the name "Ram Dass", which means "servant of God",referring to the incarnation of God as Ram or Lord Rama. Alpert also corresponded with the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba and mentioned Baba in several of his books.
In February 1997, Ram Dass suffered a stroke that left him with expressive aphasia, which he interprets as an act of grace. He no longer travels, but continues to teach through live webcasts and at retreats in Hawaii. When asked if he could sum up his life's message, he replied, "I help people as a way to work on myself, and I work on myself to help people ... to me, that's what the emerging game is all about." Ram Dass was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in August 1991.
Ram Dass is a vegetarian. In the 1990s, he became more forthcoming about his bisexuality while avoiding labels and asserting that bisexuality "isn't gay, and it's not not-gay, and it's not anything—it's just awareness." At 78, Ram Dass learned that he had fathered a son as a 24-year-old at Stanford, and that he was now a grandfather.
The Love Serve Remember Foundation was organized to preserve and continue the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba and Ram Dass, and to work with Ram Dass on his writings and other future plans. The Hanuman Foundation is a nonprofit educational and service organization founded by Ram Dass in 1974, focused on the spiritual well-being of society through education, media and community service programs. The Seva Foundation is an international health organization founded by Ram Dass in 1978 along with public health leader Larry Brilliant and humanitarian activist Wavy Gravy. Ram Dass also serves on the faculty of the Metta Institute where he provides training on mindful and compassionate care of the dying.
- Identification and Child Rearing (with R. Sears and L. Rau) (1962) Stanford University Press
- The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (with Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzner) (1964) ISBN 0-8065-1652-6
- LSD (with Sidney Cohen) (1966) ISBN 0-453-00120-3
- Remember, Be Here Now (1971) ISBN 0-517-54305-2
- Doing Your Own Being (1973)
- The Only Dance There Is (1974) ISBN 0-385-08413-7
- Grist for the Mill (with Steven Levine) (1977) ISBN 0-89087-499-9
- Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook (1978) ISBN 0-553-28572-6
- Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba (1978) ISBN 0-525-47611-3
- How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service (with Paul Gorman) (1985) ISBN 0-394-72947-1
- Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service (with Mirabai Bush) (1991) ISBN 0-517-57635-X
- Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying (2000) ISBN 1-57322-871-0
- Paths to God: Living The Bhagavad Gita (2004) ISBN 1-4000-5403-6
- Be Love Now (with Rameshwar Das) (2010) ISBN 1-84604-291-7
- The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (with Timothy Leary & Ralph Metzner) (1966) (reissued on CD in 2003 by Folkways)
- Here We All Are, a 3-LP set recorded live in Vancouver, BC in the summer of 1969.
- Love Serve Remember (1973), a six-album set of teachings, data, and spiritual songs (ZBS Foundation) (released in MP3 format, 2008)
- Ram Dass Fierce Grace, a 2001 biographical documentary about Ram Dass directed by Micky Lemle