About Francois Gautier
François Gautier was born in Paris and had a strict upper-class catholic education in boarding schools all over Europe. His family wanted him to be a businessman and he attended an American business school in Paris called IDRAC, but his interest was in writing and he quit to work in a small newspaper, which quickly folded. He dabbled in photography and then wrote the script of a film for a friend (whose father, a famous film director, had given him 30.000 francs to do his own film). Before the film was released, however he left for India when he had just turned nineteen.
When he reached India, he felt he had reached home and settled in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondichery, where he met the Mother and immersed himself in Sri Aurobindo’s writings, which will have a deep influence on him all throughout his life. He however stopped writing for a long time, except his own diaries and learnt meditation and gardening ! But I In 1982, at the occasion of the Asian Games in Delhi, he chanced upon an article (on the Asian games) in a French newspaper. It had all the usual clichés on India : poverty, fakirs, Mother Teresa… On an impulse, he shot a letter of correction to the Editor and offered to write an article, which the editor accepted! Thus started his journalistic career.. An another article followed and another and another… He thus began freelancing for different publications and finally ended-up being the correspondent in South Asia, for the Geneva-based « Journal de Geneve »,With Rajiv Gandhi which at one time used to be one of the best international newspapers in Europe. A little later, he switched to Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers for which he worked exclusively for eight years. He also started writing regular columns for Indian newspapers, first in Blitz Bombay, then in the Hindustan Times, later came the popular ‘Ferengi’s column” in the Indian Express, then the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, as well as regular contributions to Rediff.com. After a disagreement with Le Figaro over Indian President Narayanan’s 2000 visit to Paris (one of the editorialists of Le Figaro chose, without consulting Francois, to write a series of insulting articles on India and to say that “it was the first time that an ‘intouchable’ was going shake the hand of the French President), Francois quit Le Figaro and started working for Ouest-France, the largest circulation (1 million copies) daily in France and then for Marianne, one of the foremost political French magazines. Today Francois is the editor in Chief of La Revue de l’Inde, a litteray magazine devoted to India published by leading French editor Les Belles Lettres (lesbelleslettres.com).
François started his journalistic career started with the same prejudices, set ideas that most of his fellow correspondents have: secularism is the best system for India, given the explosive mosaic of its ethnics races and religions; the Congress is the flag bearer of ‘secularism’; Gandhi is the ‘father’ of the nation; there are also Hindu ‘fundamentalists’; or Christian missionaries are doing ‘wonderful’ work in India. But he was lucky. Instead of plunging straight into political India, where journalists, both Indian or foreign, quickly become cynical – if not bitter – he did photographic features in the deep South: the extraordinary kalaripayat, With Mr. I.K. Gujral the villages of Kerala, which is the ancestor of all great Asian martial arts in; the absolutely amazing Ayappa festival on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala; Ayurveda, the most ancient medical system in the world still in practice; the exquisite Ayanars of Tanjore district… There, he discovered that the genius of India is in its villages and that the tradition of gentleness, tolerance, hospitality, is rooted in rural India (Mark Tully, in his own way, came to the same conclusion in the North) – and not in the cities of India, where people have often lost touch with that inner reality. He also quickly found out that India was not solely great in the past, but also in the present and that many of the theorems, such as the Aryan invasion, upon which India’s history are based are false.
François Gautier started writing his first book when the head of Vikas publisher, who had read some of his articles in Blitz, asked him if he could publish a series of them under a book form. Gautier answered that he would rather write the book from scratch and thus was born « The Wonder that IS India ». Later, Hinduism Today, a remarkable set-up, which for the first time in the history of Hinduism is attempting to rationalize and gather together this great knowledge to present it to the world, offered to put it on their site in the net.
François Gautier has written several books: Un autre Regard sur l’Inde” (Editions du Tricorne, Geneva-Paris), which has been reprinted thrice and for which he was invited in May 2000 to ‘Bouillon de Culture’, France’s most prestigious TV literary programme; “Arise O India” (Har Anand) 1999, “A Western journalist on India” (Har-Anand 2001), “India’s Self Denial (Editions Auroville Press, 2001), “Swami, moine hindou et PDG (Editions Delville, Paris, 2003, 8000 copies sold) “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a guru of Joy” (India Today Book Club, 2003; 6 reprints, 50.000 copies sold). La Caravane Intérieure (Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2005).
Francois, who has married to Namrita an Indian girl from Delhi, feels that India has given him so much, spiritually, professionally, emotionally, sentimentally, that he has to repay a little of this debt.