Uma Thurman's mother may have been a model, but her father, Robert Alexander Farrar Thurman, is a prolific writer and professor of Tibetan Buddhism. He raised his children Buddhist, though "Uma" is actually a Hindu name. Uma's family spent time in India when she was growing up, and the Dalai Lama, a longtime personal friend of Robert's, visited them on several occasions. According to his faculty bio at Columbia University, Robert's "special interest is the exploration of the Indo-Tibetan philosophical and psychological traditions, with a view to their relevance to parallel currents of contemporary thought and science." Uma now identifies as agnostic.