Ram Dass (April 6, 1931, born Richard Alpert – December 22, 2019), also known as Baba
Ram Dass, was an American spiritual teacher, psychologist, and author. His best known book, Be Here Now (1971), has been described as "seminal", and helped popularize Eastern spirituality and yoga with the baby boomer generation in the West. He authored or co-authored twelve other books on spirituality including Grist for the Mill (1977) and Polishing the Mirror (2013).
In 1967, Richard Alpert traveled to India and became a disciple of Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning "Servant of Ram". In the coming years, he founded the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation. The Hanuman Foundation, a nonprofit educational and service organization initiated the Prison-Ashram Project (now known as the Human Kindness Foundation), in 1974. The Hanuman Foundation is actively focused on the spiritual well-being of society through education, media and community service programs. He co-founded the Seva Foundation by joining with health-care workers to treat the blind in India, Nepal, and developing countries.
He traveled extensively giving talks and retreats and holding fundraisers for charitable causes in India. In 1997, Ram Dass had a stroke which left him with paralysis and expressive aphasia. He grew to interpret this event as an act of grace, learning to speak again and continuing to teach and author more books. After becoming seriously ill during a trip to India in 2004, he gave up traveling and moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he hosted annual retreats with other spiritual teachers until his death in 2019.