Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:December 19th, 2009 09:39 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Brian K. Smith (VENERABLE SUMATI MARUT)

Judyth Piazza chats with Brian K. Smith (VENERABLE SUMATI MARUT)

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

BRIAN K. SMITH (VENERABLE SUMATI MARUT) received his Ph.D. in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago in 1984, where he studied with Mircea Eliade, Wendy Doniger O`Flaherty, and other world-renowned scholars of Indian and Comparative Religions.  He taught courses in Indian, Eastern, and Comparative Religion for over twenty years -- first at Barnard College, Columbia University, and then as a tenured Professor at the University of California, Riverside " before retiring and becoming Professor Emeritus in 2004.  He has spent several years in India studying and is the author of two books based on ancient Sanskrit materials (published with Oxford University Press), many articles (academic, as well as popular pieces for encyclopedias), and is the co-translator of a Sanskrit law book, THE LAWS OF MANU (published by Penguin). 

In 2000, he founded the Asian Classics Institute of Los Angeles (ACI-LA) and has taught classes in Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and practice to hundreds of students in L.A. and elsewhere.  Over these years he also trained teachers who continue the work of ACI-LA (see  Brian serves as the spiritual director of ACI-LA and continues to teach courses for that organization.

In 2004, Brian joined the faculty, as Professor of Sanskrit, of a new Buddhist university founded by Geshe Michael Roach.  With campuses in Tucson and rural southeastern Arizona, Diamond Mountain University enrolls between 100 and 200 students from all over the world each term (

Brian is a founding Board Member and current President of the Yoga Studies Institute and regularly teaches courses in the Sanskrit classics of yoga for YSI (  He also occasionally teaches courses in Buddhism, yoga, and Sanskrit as part of the Yoga Philosophy Program of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles (