Advisory Board: Friends of Sarnath

The Institute continues to develop its presence in India and its connections to individuals and institutions globally to serve our mission to build bridges of goodness.


Please meet the following newly appointed advisors to the Institute. Drawing on their years of professional experience in specialized fields from art to science to education, this stellar advisory board member will help shape our future.



Briana Blasko, Photographer & Writer


Briana Blasko’s photographic career began in New York where she worked for the New York Times photographing dance for the Arts and Culture Department. For the past eight years, she’s been crisscrossing the Indian sub-continent to document the country’s rich traditions of textiles and dance and the interplay between the two. Her work has culminated in the production of a series of photographic works, including Dance of the Weave and now a forthcoming book on the path of the Yogis.  Although much of Briana’s work is done as a solo artist, she has worked with hundreds of artists, weavers and dancers over the years. Her work provides a window into a fast-disappearing world of perfection in the dance between consciousness and creation, repetition and innovation. In her most recent book, "Within Without: The Path of the Yogi" documenting the path of yogis, she looks at the current that carries the searcher to go beyond all forms and senses, to renunciation and acceptance. Briana lives between New Delhi, Goa, and San Francisco and is honored to be a part of SINI’s work. 


Melissa Nyendak, Doctor & Educator



Navneet Raman, Educator & Art Curator


Navneet Raman is from an old family of Varanasi which has in the last 100 years contributed to the preservation of the culture and heritage of the city. His great grandfather was the first mayor of Varanasi at the beginning of 20th century. They have been founder trustees of institutions like the Banaras Hindu University, Kashi Vidyapeeth, and Central University of Tibetan Studies. Navneet has been working on cultural and heritage preservation for the last 18 years in Varanasi, continuing the legacy of his family.


Navneet Raman is the founder of Kriti Gallery and Artist Residency. He was the Convenor of INTACH Varanasi Chapter from 2006-2009. He was part of the UNESCO collaboration initiator with Maison du Fleuve Rhône in 2007 and initiated various collaborations which were to finally create with the French city of Lyon the twin city partnership with Banaras (Varanasi). He has been persuading the French government to organise Sacred Music festival as a collaborator. He is the founder of Banaras Cultural Foundation, a not for profit cultural organisation engaged in cultural exchange and education trips. He is a member of ICOMOS and the Executive Committee of ICOMOS INDIA. 


Navneet was also honoured to present the case of Banaras and its heritage in the French Parliament on the initiative of Senator Yves Dauge. He was also invited to the Loire Valley to Study the various heritage initiatives there. Navneet has been the cultural ambassador of the city of Banaras on various forums in USA, UK, France, Switzerland and Germany. For the past 10 years, he has been pushing for the Alliance Francaise Banaras Chapter. He is instrumental in putting this team together. He has worked for the last 7 years with French Publisher Diane De Selliers on the French Ramayan and Bhagvat Gita. He continues to promote the work of Diane De Selliers in India.


Navneet has been supporting Indian Craftsman though his various initiatives to bring the crafts to the highest levels in museums worldwide. He works with the museum shops and boutique designers to showcase the best of India Crafts.


At Kriti Gallery he has been instrumental in showing art from around the world in the historic city of Varanasi. He is also been working towards creating the Banaras Museum of Contemporary Art and has in the past 12 years collected more than 3000 works of Contemporary Artists from around the world. 





Lakshmi Saripalli, Astrophysicist & Educator


Dr. Lakshmi Saripalli is presently Raman Trust Fellow at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore. She has an MSc in Applied Physics and received her Ph.D. in 1989 in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore). For her Ph.D. thesis, she was awarded the Martin Forster gold medal in the division of Physical and Mathematical sciences. She is the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship in 1992 when she carried out research at the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Institut for Radio Astronomie. She has held academic and faculty positions in various research organizations including the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bangalore), CSIRO-ATNF in Australia and is presently a faculty at the Raman Research Institute (Bangalore).

Her research focuses on radio galaxies and quasars. Her particular research interests are in the formation and subsequent evolution of radio-emitting structures associated with active galaxies, lifecycles of these galaxies and interaction of these regions – of magnetized plasma – with the intergalactic medium. More specifically her research has focused on the largest of radio galaxies, the so-called giant radio galaxies that have linear extents larger than two million light years.

She uses a variety of radio and optical telescopes for her work and has active collaborations with astronomers in India, Australia, Italy and the US. She has supervised three Ph.D. students, Master’s theses and has employed several summer project students. She has taught graduate Astrophysics courses in the Joint Astronomy Program at the Indian Institute of Science and undergraduate honours courses at the University of Queensland and the University of Western Australia. Recently she was awarded the Helena Kluyver fellowship for women scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.

Since 2007 she has been the Managing Editor of the International Journal of Astrophysics and Space Science. She has also been supervising online astronomy projects since a decade at the Swinburne University (Australia). Separately, she has initiated India’s participation at the Professor Harry Messel International Science School for talented high school students held every two years at the University of Sydney – managing the selection of five students from all across India, conducting tests and interviews.

Her active interest in environmental issues saw her take up research in renewable energies in Australia, in particular, wind energy. For a period of four years, she engaged in study and research in environmental matters including – for a brief period, research on wind energy prospects in Australia at Monash University, besides organizing discussion meetings and giving public talks on the subject in India.

She actively collaborates with several NGOs that work in the area of empowerment of marginalized communities, environmental concerns and civic issues. She is deeply involved both formally and informally in education-related issues, both at school as well as undergraduate level and related to both urban as well as rural poor. 



Kaveri Singh, Artist