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New Books in Hindu Studies - Raaga.com - A World of Music

New Books in Hindu Studies

Marshall Poe

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Anway+Mukhopadhyay%2C+%E2%80%9CThe+Authority+of+Female+Speech+in+Indian+Goddess+Traditions%E2%80%9D+%28Palgrave%2C+2020%29
access_time7 months ago
Contemporary debates on “mansplaining” foreground the authority enjoyed by male speech, and highlight the way it projects listening as the responsibility of the dominated, and speech as the privilege of the dominant. What mansplaining denies systematically is the right of women to speak and be heard as much as men.
Anway Mukhopadhyay, The Authority of Female Speech in Indian Goddess Traditions (Palgrave, 2020) excavates numerous instances of the authority of female speech from Indian goddess traditions and relates them to the contemporary gender debates, especially to the issues of mansplaining and womansplaining. These traditions present a paradigm of female speech that compels its male audience to reframe the configurations of “masculinity.” This tradition of authoritative female speech forms a continuum, even though there are many points of disjuncture as well as conjuncture between the Vedic, Upanishadic, puranic, and tantric figurations of the Goddess as an authoritative speaker. The book underlines the Goddess’s role as the spiritual mentor of her devotee, exemplified in the Devi Gitas, and re-situates the female gurus in Hinduism within the traditions that find in Devi’s speech ultimate spiritual authority. Moreover, it explores whether the figure of Devi as Womansplainer can encourage a more dialogic structure of gender relations in today’s world where female voices are still often undervalued.
Anway Mukhopadhyay is Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Bihani+Sarkar%2C+%22Heroic+Sh%C4%81ktism%3A+The+Cult+of+Durg%C4%81+in+Ancient+Indian+Kingship%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2017%29
access_time7 months ago
Heroic Saktism is the belief that a good king and a true warrior must worship the goddess Durga, the form and substance of kingship. This belief formed the bedrock of ancient Indian practices of cultivating political power. Wildly dangerous and serenely benevolent at one and the same time, the goddess's charismatic split nature promised rewards for a hero and king and success in risky ventures. Heroic Shāktism: The Cult of Durgā in Ancient Indian Kingship (Oxford UP, 2017) is the first expansive historical treatment of the cult of Durga and the role it played in shaping ideas and rituals of heroism in India between the 3rd and the 12th centuries CE. By assessing the available epigraphic, literary and scriptural sources in Sanskrit, and anthropological studies on politics and ritual, Bihani Sarkar demonstrates that the association between Indian kingship and the cult's belief-systems was an ancient one based on efforts to augment worldly power.
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Sree+Padma%2C+%22Vicissitudes+of+the+Goddess%3A+Reconstructions+of+the+Gramadevata+in+India%27s+Religious+Traditions%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2013%29
access_time7 months ago
In Vicissitudes of the Goddess: Reconstructions of the Gramadevata in India's Religious Traditions (Oxford UP, 2013), Padma (Bowdoin College) focuses on two types of Gramadevatas or goddesses: deified women and those associated with disease and fertility. Setting these figures in the context of their Brahmanic transformation into popular goddesses and noting the interconnectedness of seemingly disparate categories of goddess, the author argues for a continuation of certain goddesses from the Indus period to the contemporary one. She demonstrates two significant aspects of the study of goddesses. First, against the backdrop of the rural versus the urban context, she articulates a history of local goddesses of Andhra Pradesh, clearly linking them to the Indus context as well as the present day. Second, she explains why and how these local goddesses were adopted and adapted to other traditions or systems of thought, namely Brahmanic, Buddhist, and Jain.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Michael+Slouber%2C+%22A+Garland+of+Forgotten+Goddesses%3A%C2%A0Tales+of+the+Feminine+Divine+from+India+and+Beyond%22+%28U+California+Press%2C+2020%29
access_time7 months ago
Michael Slouber's new book A Garland of Forgotten Goddesses: Tales of the Feminine Divine from India and Beyond (University of California Press, 2020) surveys the diversity of India's feminine divine tradition by bringing together a fresh array of captivating and largely overlooked Hindu goddess narratives from different regions. As the first such anthology of goddess narratives in translation, it highlights a range of sources from ancient myths to modern lore. The goddesses in this book battle demons, perform miracles, and grant rare Tantric visions to their devotees. Each translation is paired with a short essay that explains the goddesses­­s historical and social context, demonstrating the ways religion changes ov­­er time.
Christopher Austen is Associate Professor, Religious Studies at Dalhousie University.
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Tim+Bruce%2C+%22Devi+Mahatmyam%3A+The+Glory+of+the+Goddess%22+%28Raconteurs+Audio+LLP%2C+2020%29
access_time7 months ago
Today I talked to Tim Bruce, narrator of Devi Mahatmyam: The Glory of the Goddess (Raconteurs Audio LLP, 2020).
For millions worldwide, the Devi Mahatmyam is of central spiritual importance and of equal cultural significance within Indian Sanskrit literature to the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. Also known as the Shri Durga Saptashati (700 verses to Goddess Durga), it forms a major part of the Markandeya Purana (dating from around 550 CE) and remains the prime focus of festivity and devotion to the Divine Mother during the nine nights of Navaratri.
Listening to this story nurtures a strong positive feeling of protection and well-being within the Heart chakra, stimulates the energy of the sternum bone that produces the antibodies that fight infection, and is of particular benefit to mankind today, as the world struggles to cope with the many physical and psychological challenges and the increasing pressures of modern life. This is a Devi Mahatmyam for our time.
Special YouTube link to Devi Mahatmyam: Chapter One as a FREE GIFT to NBN listeners: https://youtu.be/XxWQTJIVKPs
For information about your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/academia
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Rita+D.+Sherma%2C+%22Contemplative+Studies+in+Hinduism%3A+Meditation%2C+Devotion%2C+Prayer%2C+and+Worship%22+%28Routledge%2C+2020%29
access_time7 months ago
What counts as contemplative practices in Hinduism? What can Hindu Studies offer Contemplative Studies as a discipline?
Contemplative Studies in Hinduism: Meditation, Devotion, Prayer, and Worship (Routledge, 2020), edited by Rita D. Sherma and Purushottama Bilimoria, explores diverse spiritual and religious Hindu practices to grapple with meditative communion and contemplation, devotion, spiritual formation, prayer, ritual, and worship. Contemplative Studies in Hinduism covers a wide range of topics – classical Sāṃkhya and Patañjali Yoga, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the role of Sādhana in Advaita Vedānta, Śrīvidyā and the Śrīcakra, the body in Tantra, the semiotics and illocution of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sādhana, mantra in Mīmāṃsā, Vaiṣṇava liturgy - to articulate indigenous categories for grappling to Hindu contemplative traditions. In doing so it enriches the fields of both Contemplative Studies and Hindu Studies.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Sanjay+Lal%2C+%22Gandhi%27s+Thought+and+Liberal+Democracy%22+%28Lexington+Books%2C+2019%29
access_time7 months ago
Is religion indispensable to public life? What can Gandhi’s thought contribute to the modern state? With an intense focus on both the depth and practicality of Mahatma Gandhi's political and religious thought this book reveals the valuable insights Gandhi offers to anyone concerned about the prospects of liberalism in the contemporary world.
In Gandhi's Thought and Liberal Democracy (Lexington Books, 2019), Sanjay Lal makes the case that for Gandhi, in stark contrast to commonly accepted liberal orthodoxy, religion is indispensable to the public life, and indeed the official activity, of any genuinely liberal society. Gandhi scholars, political theorists, and activist members of a lay audience alike will all find much to digest, comment upon, and be motivated by in this work.
Sanjay Lal is senior lecturer of philosophy at Clayton State University.
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Alan+Brill%2C+%22+Rabbi+on+the+Ganges%3A+A+Jewish-Hindu+Encounter%22+%28Lexington%2C+2019%29
access_time7 months ago
How do Judaism and Hinduism compare as religions? Beyond the academic merits of comparative religion, what can adherents to one of these faiths gain by learning about the other?
Alan Brill's new book Rabbi on the Ganges: A Jewish-Hindu Encounter (Lexington Books, 2019) is the first work to engage the new terrain of Hindu-Jewish religious encounter. The book offers understanding into points of contact between the two religions of Hinduism and Judaism. Providing an important comparative account, the work illuminates key ideas and practices within the traditions, surfacing commonalities between the jnana and Torah study, karmakanda and Jewish ritual, and between the different Hindu philosophic schools and Jewish thought and mysticism, along with meditation and the life of prayer and Kabbalah and creating dialogue around ritual, mediation, worship, and dietary restrictions. The goal of the book is not only to unfold the content of these faith traditions but also to create a religious encounter marked by mutual and reciprocal understanding and openness.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Robert+M.+Geraci%2C+%22Temples+of+Modernity%3A+Nationalism%2C+Hinduism%2C+and+Transhumanism+in+South+Indian+Science%22+%28Lexington%2C+2018%29
access_time8 months ago
What is the relationship between science, religion and technology in Hinduism? We speak with Robert M. Geraci about his research into religious ideas and practices in Indian science and engineering circles.
Temples of Modernity: Nationalism, Hinduism, and Transhumanism in South Indian Science (Lexington, 2018) uses ethnographic data to investigate the presence of religious ideas and practices in Indian science and engineering. Geraci shows 1) how the integration of religion, science and technology undergirds pre- and post-independence Indian nationalism, 2) that traditional icons and rituals remain relevant in elite scientific communities, and 3) that transhumanist ideas now percolate within Indian visions of science and technology. This work identifies the intersection of religion, science, and technology as a worldwide phenomenon and suggests that the study of such interactions should be enriched through attention to the real experiences of people across the globe.
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Neela+Bhattacharya+Saxena%2C+%22Absent+Mother+God+of+the+West%3A+A+Kali+Lover%27s+Journey+into+Christianity+and+Judaism%22+%28Rowman%2C+2015%29
access_time8 months ago
In Absent Mother God of the West: A Kali Lover's Journey into Christianity and Judaism (Rowman, 2015) Neela Bhattacharya Saxena draws on her personal religious experiences and devotion to the Goddess Kali as a starting point to reflect on the absence of a Divine Feminine in Christianity and Judaism. We discuss the psychological and spiritual implications of that absence, along with discussing phenomena such as the Black Madonna and the Shekhinah in Jewish mysticism.
This book about the missing Divine Feminine in Christianity and Judaism chronicles a personal as well as an academic quest of an Indian woman who grew up with Kali and myriad other goddesses. It is born out of a women's studies course created and taught by the author called The Goddess in World Religions. The book examines how the Divine Feminine was erased from the western consciousness and how it led to an exclusive spiritually patriarchal monotheism with serious consequences for both women’s and men’s psychological and spiritual identity. While colonial, proselytizing and patriarchal ways have denied the divinity inherent in the female of the species, a recent upsurge of body-centric practices like Yoga and innumerable books about old and new goddesses reveal a deep seated mother hunger in the western consciousness. Written from a practicing Hindu/Buddhist perspective, this book looks at the curious phenomenon called the Black Madonna that appears in Europe and also examines mystical figures like Shekhinah in Jewish mysticism. People interested in symbols of the goddess, feminist theologians, and scholars interested in the absence of goddesses in monotheisms may find this book’s perspective and insights provocative.
Saxena draws on her personal religious experiences and devotion to the Goddess Kali as a starting point to reflect on the absence of a Divine Feminine in Christianity and Judaism. We discuss the psychological and spiritual implications of that absence, along with discussing phenomena such as the Black Madonna and the Shekhinah in Jewish mysticism.
Dr. Neela Bhattacharya Saxena is professor of English and women's studies at Nassau Community College. You can visit her blog “Stand Under the Mother Principle” here.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Malcolm+Keating%2C+%22Controversial+Reasoning+in+Indian+Philosophy%3A+Major+Texts+and+Arguments+on+Arth%C3%A2patti%22+%28Bloomsbury+Academic%2C+2020%29
access_time8 months ago
How do we know what we know?  The most prominent means of knowledge for Indian philosophers are direct perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna) and authority (śabda). Then there is the much debated “postulation” (arthāpatti), a point of controversy among Mimamsa, Nyaya, and Buddhist philosophers.
Consisting of translations of central primary texts and newly-commissioned scholarly essays, Controversial Reasoning in Indian Philosophy: Major Texts and Arguments on Arthâpatti (Bloomsbury Academic) is a ground-breaking reference resource for understanding arthāpati, and debates in Indian philosophy at large.
Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Humanities Division of Yale-NUS College, Singapore.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Shankar+Nair%2C+%22Translating+Wisdom%3A+Hindu-Muslim+Intellectual+Interactions+in+Early+Modern+South+Asia%22+%28U+California+Press%2C+2020%29
access_time9 months ago
Shankar Nair’s new book Translating Wisdom: Hindu-Muslim Intellectual Interactions in Early Modern South Asia (University of California Press, 2020) is an intellectually daring and dazzlingly imaginative study of scholarly interactions, made visible through translation, between Sanskrit and Arabo-Persian philosophical traditions in premodern South Asia. Centered on the 16th-century Persian translation Jūg Bāsisht of the major and multifaceted 10th century Sanskrit text Yoga Vāsiṣṭha, Nair details and explicates the philological, philosophical, and theological mechanisms and operations that go into an interreligious translation enterprise of this sort. Shifting seamlessly between Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian, Nair demonstrates that a close reading of the premodern archive can simultaneously disrupt nationalist historiographies while also refusing to secularize that archive in the process. He also convincingly makes a case for approaching and benefiting from the theological discourses and imagination of premodern actors such as the scholars involved in or connected to this translation project as not only data to be theorized but properly theoretical in their own right. Translating Wisdom is among those rare books that combine the textual finesse of meticulous philology with razor sharp theoretical awareness and nuance.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome. 
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Martin+Gansten%2C+%22The+Jewel+of+Annual+Astrology%3A+A+Translation+of+Balabhadra%27s+H%C4%81yanaratna%22%C2%A0%28Brill%2C+2020%29
access_time9 months ago
We speak with Martin Gansten on his groundbreaking edition and translation of Balabhadra's Hāyanaratna (1649), the first-ever scholarly volume on Sanskritized Perso-Arabic (Tājika) astrology. The Jewel of Annual Astrology (A Translation of Balabhadra's Hāyanaratna) (Brill). In addition to speaking about this work, we dive into the perplexing world of Indian astrology.
This book is available open access here.
Martin Gansten, Ph.D. (2003), Lund University, is a Sanskritist and historian of religion specializing in Indic religions as well as the global transmission history of horoscopic astrology.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Jeffery+D.+Long%2C+%22Hinduism+in+America%22+%28Bloomsbury+Academic%2C+2020%29
access_time9 months ago
In Hinduism in America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020) Jeffrey D. Long traces two worlds that converge – that of Hindu immigrants to America who strive to preserve their traditions in a foreign land, and that of American spiritual seekers who turn to Hindu practices and ideas. Long explores the influence of concepts such karma, rebirth, meditation and yoga on the American consciousness, along with Hindu temples in America.
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Arti+Dhand%2C+%22Woman+as+Fire%2C+Woman+as+Sage%3A+Sexual+Ideology+in+the+Mahabharata%22+%28SUNY+Press%2C+2008%29
access_time9 months ago
The Hindu tradition has held conflicting views on womanhood from its earliest texts—holding women aloft as goddesses to be worshipped on the one hand and remaining deeply suspicious about women’s sexuality on the other. In Woman as Fire, Woman as Sage: Sexual Ideology in the Mahabharata (SUNY Press, 2008), Arti Dhand examines the religious premises upon which Hindu ideas of sexuality and women are constructed. The work focuses on the great Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata, a text that not only reflects the cogitations of a momentous period in Hindu history, but also was critical in shaping the future of Hinduism. Dhand proposes that the epic’s understanding of womanhood cannot be isolated from the broader religious questions that were debated at the time, and that the formation of a sexual ideology is one element in crafting a coherent religious framework for Hinduism.
Today we speak with Arti Dhand on her teaching, her research on the Hindu epics and her exciting new podcast on the Mahābhārata!
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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A+Conversation+with+Seth+Powell+about+Yogic+Studies
access_time9 months ago
Today I talked with Seth Powell, founder of Yogic Studies “were the studio meets the academy” rendering rigorous research accessible to studios, teachers, and students. Beyond completing his Yoga Studies doctorate at Harvard University, Seth is at the cutting edge of online education, at the intersection of academic expertise and public access. Seth also hosts the Yogic Studies podcast.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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A+Conversation+with+Chris+Chapple%2C+Part+II%3A+Living+Landscapes
access_time10 months ago
Join us as we continue discussion with Dr. Christopher Chapple, Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Layola Marymount University as we dive into his new book Living Landscapes: Meditations on the Five Elements in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Yogas (SUNY Press, 2020). The ancient Indian philosophers conceptualized the universe as comprising 5 elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space), corresponding to the five human senses. This philosophy is encoded in Indian religion at every turn. This book draws from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions to explore the extent to which elemental meditations in the Indian context transcend these "religious" boundaries as we understand them. It is also a fascinating look into the lived practice of ideating upon the elements.
Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and director of Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Joyce+Burkhalter+Flueckiger%2C+%E2%80%9CMaterial+Acts+in+Everyday+Hindu+Worlds%E2%80%9D+%28SUNY+Press%2C+2020%29
access_time10 months ago
In her fascinating book, Material Acts in Everyday Hindu Worlds (SUNY Press, 2020), Joyce Flueckiger analyzes the agency of materiality, that is, the ability of materials to have effect beyond what was intended.
This ethnographic journey across three Indian locales examines the agency of various materials – from ornaments, to female guising, to cement images.
This book not only delivers deep insight into the Hindu world, but broadens our understanding of the role of material agency within the study of religion.
Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger is Professor of Religion at Emory University
For information about your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see https://www.rajbalkaran.com/scholarship
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Johannes+Bronkhorst%2C+%22A+%C5%9Aabda+Reader%3A+Language+in+Classical+Indian+Thought%22+%28Columbia+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time10 months ago
In A Śabda Reader: Language in Classical Indian Thought (Columbia University Press, 2019), Johannes Bronkhorst, emeritus professor at the University of Lausanne, makes the case through an extensive introduction and select translations of important Indian texts that language has a crucial role in Indian thought.
Not only does it form the subject of inquiry for grammarians, philosophers, and aestheticians, but it forms the background for the religious and cultural world which informs these investigations. Writing in, and deeply invested in, the Sanskrit language, brahminical thinkers considered the status of phonemes, words, sentences, and larger textual units, as well as the relationship between language and reality.
Their interlocutors, Jains and Buddhists, wrote in Pāli as well as Sanskrit, addressing many of the same topics. A Śabda Reader includes excerpts of texts from all three groups, in new translations, which shows the interplay among these thinkers.
Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).
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David+L.+Haberman%2C+%E2%80%9CLoving+Stones%3A+Making+the+Impossible+Possible+in+the+Worship+of+Mount+Govardhan%E2%80%9D+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time10 months ago
Loving Stones: Making the Impossible Possible in the Worship of Mount Govardhan (Oxford University Press) explores the worship world of Mount Govardhan: located in the Braj region of India, the mountain is considered an embodied form of the Hindu deity Krishna.
Above and beyond providing insight into the fascinating religious practices surrounding worship of Mount Govardhan, Haberman probes the paradox of an infinite god embodied in finite form, In doing so, he offers critical consideration of the pejorative concept of idolatry in the study of religions, in particular its problematic use to when applied to Hindu religiosity.
David L. Haberman is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University.
For information about your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see https://www.rajbalkaran.com/scholarship
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A+Conversation+with+Chris+Chapple%2C+Part+I%3A+MA+in+Yoga+Studies
access_time10 months ago
In this interview, we have a candid conversation with Dr. Christopher Key Chapple of Loyola Marymount University about his outlook, teaching philosophy, and new developments in the field – his Master of Arts in Yoga Studies in particular. Stay tuned for Part II where we will focus on Chris’ scholarship, in particular his new book Living Landscapes: Meditations on the Five Elements in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Yogas.
Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and director of Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Drew+Thomases%2C+%22Guest+is+God%3A+Pilgrimage%2C+Tourism%2C+and+Making+Paradise+in+India%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time11 months ago
In Guest is God: Pilgrimage, Tourism, and Making Paradise in India (Oxford University Press, 2019) Drew Thomases investigates the Indian pilgrimage town of Pushkar.
While the town consists of 20,000 residents, it boasts two million visitors annually. Sacred to the creator god, Brahma, Pushkar is understood as heaven on earth – a heaven heavily marked by tourism and globalization. You can learn about the lives of the residents of Pushkar through Thomases fascinating ethnographic fieldwork.
Drew Thomases is Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at San Diego State University. His work focuses on the anthropology of religion in North India--more specifically, Hindu pilgrimage and practice--though he is broadly interested in tourism, globalization, environmentalism, and theoretical approaches to the study of religion.
For information about your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see https://www.rajbalkaran.com/scholarship
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Adheesh+Sathaye%2C+%E2%80%9CCrossing+the+Lines+of+Caste%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2015%29
access_time11 months ago
What does it mean to be a Brahmin, and what could it mean to become one?
The ancient Indian mythological figure Viśvāmitra accomplishes just this, transforming himself from a king into a Brahmin by cultivation of ascetic power.
The book, Crossing the Lines of Caste, examines legends of the irascible Viśvāmitra as occurring in Sanskrit and vernacular texts, oral performances, and visual media to show how the "storyworlds" created by these various retellings have adapted and reinforced Brahmin social identity over the millennia.
Adheesh Sathaye is Associate Professor, Sanskrit Literature And Folklore, University of British Columbia. You can check out his online class "Narrative Literature in Premodern India" here.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship
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Raj+Balkaran%2C+%22The+Goddess+and+the+Sun+in+Indian+Myth%22+%28Routledge%2C+2020%29
access_time11 months ago
Why are the myths of the Indian Great Goddess, Durgā, found in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa framed by myths glorifying the Sun, Sūrya? And why do these glorifications mirror each other in both content and form?
In exploring these questions, this book argues for an ideological ecosystem at work in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa privileging worldly (pravṛtti) values, of which Indian kings, the Goddess (Devī), the Sun (Sūrya) and sage Mārkaṇḍeya himself are paragons.
Join us in the “flip interview” as as your New Books Network Hindu Studies host Raj Balkaran (University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies) is interviewed on his new book, The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth: Power, Preservation and Mirrored Māhātmyas in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (Routledge, 2020) by guest-interviewer Christopher Austen.
Christopher Austen is Associate Professor, Religious Studies at Dalhousie University
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Ehud+Halperin%2C+%E2%80%9CThe+Many+Faces+of+a+Himalayan+Goddess%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time11 months ago
Hadimba is a primary village goddess in the Kullu Valley of the West Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, a rural area known as the Land of Gods. As the book shows, Hadimba is a goddess whose vitality reveals itself in her devotees' rapidly changing encounters with local and far from local players, powers, and ideas. These include invading royal forces, colonial forms of knowledge, and more recently the onslaught of modernity, capitalism, tourism, and ecological change. Hadimba has provided her worshipers with discursive, ritual, and ideological arenas within which they reflect on, debate, give meaning to, and sometimes resist these changing realities, and she herself has been transformed in the process.
Drawing on diverse ethnographic and textual materials gathered in the region from 2009 to 2017, The Many Faces of a Himalayan Goddess: Hadimba, Her Devotees, and Religion in Rapid Change (Oxford University Press, 2019) is rich with myths and tales, accounts of dramatic rituals and festivals, and descriptions of everyday life in the celebrated but remote Kullu Valley. The book employs an interdisciplinary approach to tell the story of Hadimba from the ground up, or rather, from the center out, portraying the goddess in varying contexts that radiate outward from her temple to local, regional, national, and indeed global spheres. The result is an important contribution to the study of Indian village goddesses, lived Hinduism, Himalayan Hinduism, and the rapidly growing field of religion and ecology.
Ehud Halperin lectures in the East Asian Studies Department at Tel Aviv University
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Anya+P.+Foxen%2C+%22Inhaling+Spirit%3A+Harmonialism%2C+Orientalism%2C+and+the+Western+Roots+of+Modern+Yoga%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time11 months ago
In her new book Inhaling Spirit: Harmonialism, Orientalism, and the Western Roots of Modern Yoga (Oxford University Press, 2020), Anya Foxen traces several disparate yet entangled roots of modern yoga practice to show that much of what we call yoga in the West stems not only from pre-modern Indian yoga traditions, but also from Hellenistic theories of the subtle body, Western esotericism and magic, pre-modern European medicine, and late-nineteenth-century women's wellness programs.
As such, this book richly contributes to the discussion of cultural appropriation as pertains to modern Western yoga.
Anya Foxen is Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Ionut+Moise%2C+%22Salvation+in+Indian+Philosophy%3A+Perfection+and+Simplicity+for+Vai%C5%9Be%E1%B9%A3ika%22+%28Routledge%2C+2019%29
access_time11 months ago
In Salvation in Indian Philosophy: Perfection and Simplicity for Vaiśeṣika (Routledge, 2019), Ionut Moise offers a comprehensive description of the ‘doctrine of salvation’ (niḥśreyasa/ mokṣa) and Vaiśeṣika, one of the oldest philosophical systems of Indian philosophy and provides an overview of theories in other related Indian philosophical systems and classical doctrines of salvation.
The book examines liberation, the fourth goal of life and arguably one of the most important topics in Indian philosophy, from a comparative philosophical perspective. Contextualising classical Greek Philosophy which contains the three goals of life (Aristotle’s Ethics), and explains salvation as first understood in the theology of the Hellenistic and Patristics periods, the author analyses six classical philosophical schools of Indian philosophy in which there is a marked emphasis on the ultimate ontological elements of the world and ‘self’. Analysing Vaiśeṣika and the manner in which this lesser known system has put forward its own theory of salvation (niḥśreyasa), the author demonstrates its significance and originality as an old and influential philosophical system. He argues that it is essential for the study of other Indian sciences and for the study of all comparative philosophy.
An extensive introduction to Indian soteriology, this book will be an important reference work for academics interested in comparative religion and philosophy, Indian philosophy, Asian religion and South Asian Studies.
Ionut Moise is a tutor in Comparative Philosophy at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), University of Oxford, UK.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Hamsa+Stainton%2C+%22Poetry+as+Prayer+in+the+Sanskrit+Hymns+of+Kashmir%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time11 months ago
In Poetry as Prayer in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2019), Hamsa Stainton explores the relationship between 'poetry’ and ‘prayer’ in South Asia through close examination of the history of Sanskrit hymns of praise (stotras) in Kashmir from the eighth century onwards. Beyond charting the history and features of the stotra genre, Hamsa Stainton presents the first sustained study of the Stutikusumāñjali, an important work dedicated to the god Śiva, one bearing witness to the trajectory of Sanskrit literary culture in fourteenth-century Kashmir. Poetry as Prayer illumines how these Śaiva poets integrate poetics, theology and devotion in the production of usage of Sanskrit hymns, and more broadly expands our understanding Hindu bhakti itself.
Hamsa Stainton is an Assistant Professor in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Deepra+Dandekar%2C+%E2%80%9CThe+Subhedar%27s+Son%E2%80%9D+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time11 months ago
This book is a translation and study of The Subhedar's Son (Oxford University Press, 2019), an award-winning Marathi biographical novel written in 1895 by Rev. Dinkar Shankar Sawarkar, who writes about his own father, Rev.Shankar Nana (1819-1884). Nana, a Brahmin, was among the early Christian converts of the Church Missionary Society in Western India. The Subhedar's Son provides a fascinating insight into Brahmanical-Christian conversions of the era, along with attitudes surrounding such conversions. In this podcast, we interview Deepra Dandekar – author of this book, and Sawarkar’s own great-grand-daughter–about this text and its important context.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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John+Stratton+Hawley%2C+%E2%80%9CKrishna%27s+Playground%3A+Vrindavan+in+the+21st+Century%E2%80%9D+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time11 months ago
John Stratton Hawley's new book Krishna's Playground: Vrindavan in the 21st Century (Oxford University Press, 2020) is about a deeply beloved place-many call it the spiritual capital of India. Located at a dramatic bend in the River Yamuna, a hundred miles from the center of Delhi, Vrindavan is the spot where the god Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood and youth. For Hindus it has always stood for youth writ large-a realm of love and beauty that enables one to retreat from the weight and harshness of world. Now, though, the world is gobbling up Vrindavan. Delhi's megalopolitan sprawl inches closer day by day-half the town is a vast real-estate development-and the waters of the Yamuna are too polluted to drink or even bathe in. Temples now style themselves as theme parks, and the world's tallest religious building is under construction in Krishna's pastoral paradise. What happens when the Anthropocene Age makes everything virtual? What happens when heaven gets plowed under? Like our age as a whole, Vrindavan throbs with feisty energy, but is it the religious canary in our collective coal mine?
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Brian+Greene%2C+%22Until+the+End+of+Time%3A+Mind%2C+Matter%2C+and+Our+Search+for+Meaning+in+an+Evolving+Universe%22+%28Random+House%2C+2020%29
access_time12 months ago
Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020)
Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced.
John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd.
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A.+M.+Ruppel%2C+%22Cambridge+Introduction+to+Sanskrit%22+%28Cambridge+UP%2C+2017%29
access_time12 months ago
In this podcast, we interview Dr. Antonia Ruppel about Sanskrit Studies. Dr. Ruppel is the author the Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and also teaches online Sanskrit courses at Yogic Studies.
Ideal for courses in beginning Sanskrit or self-study, this textbook employs modern, tried-and-tested pedagogical methods and tools, but requires no prior knowledge of ancient languages or linguistics. Devanāgarī script is introduced over several chapters and used in parallel with transliteration for several chapters more, allowing students to progress in learning Sanskrit itself while still mastering the script. Students are exposed to annotated original texts in addition to practise sentences very early on, and structures and systems underlying the wealth of forms are clearly explained to facilitate memorisation. All grammar is covered in detail, with chapters dedicated to compounding and nominal derivation, and sections explaining relevant historical phenomena. The introduction also includes a variety of online resources that students may use to reinforce and expand their knowledge: flash cards; video tutorials for all chapters; and up-to-date links to writing, declension and conjugation exercises and online dictionaries, grammars, and textual databases.
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Caleb+Simmons%2C+%22Devotional+Sovereignty%3A+Kingship+and+Religion+in+India%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time12 months ago
In his book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), Caleb Simmons examines the reigns of Tipu Sultan (r. 1782-1799) and Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (r. 1799-1868) in the South Indian kingdom of Mysore to demonstrate the extent to which both rulers--one Muslim and one Hindu--turned to religion to fortify the royal identity of kings during precarious political times.  Both courts revived pre-modern notions of Indian kingship in reaction to the British, drawing on devotion to Hindu gods, goddesses, and gurus to conceptualize and fortify their reigns.
We made mention of images in the interview, and they can be found here.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Karl-St%C3%A9phan+Bouthillette%2C+%22Dialogue+and+Doxography+in+Indian+Philosophy%22+%28Routledge%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
This ground-breaking work on Indian philosophical doxography examines the function of dialectical texts within their intellectual and religious milieu. In Dialogue and Doxography in Indian Philosophy: Points of View in Buddhist, Jaina, and Advaita Vedānta Traditions (Routledge, 2020), Karl-Stéphan Bouthillette examines the Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā of the Buddhist Bhāviveka, the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya of the Jain Haribhadra, and the Sarvasiddhāntasaṅgraha attributed to the Advaitin Śaṅkara, focusing on each of their representation of Mīmāṃsā, to arguing that each of these doxographies represent forms of spiritual exercise.
We refer to Bouthillette's Instragram account in the interview. You can find it here.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Kevin+McGrath%2C+%22Vy%C4%81sa+Redux%3A+Narrative+in+Epic+Mah%C4%81bh%C4%81rata%22+%28Anthem+Press%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
In Vyāsa Redux: Narrative in Epic Mahābhārata (Anthem Press, 2019), Kevin McGrath examines the complex and enigmatic Vyāsa, both the primary creative poet of the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata and a key character in the very epic he composes. In doing so McGrath focuses on what he considers the late Bronze Age portions of the epic feature prioritizing the concerns if the warrior class. In his discussion, McGrath distinguishes between plot and story and how this distinction comes to bear on the differences between preliterate and literate phases of the epic’s compositional history.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Alexander+Rocklin%2C+%22The+Regulation+of+Religion+and+the+Making+of+Hinduism+in+Colonial+Trinidad%22%C2%A0%28UNC+Press%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
The history of the Caribbean Island of Trinidad bears witness to an important interplay between the religious practices of peoples of South Asian and those of peoples of African descent, and in particular the manner in which colonial religious categories shaped that interplay. In The Regulation of Religion and the Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), Alexander Rocklin draws on colonial archives and ethnographic work in this pioneering examination of the realities of indentured workers in colonial Trinidad wherein he illuminates in tandem the roots of the Caribbean Hindu diaspora and the very roots of Hinduism itself and its status as a World Religion. Join us on the follow up interview on Rocklin’s fascinating findings.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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A+Conversation+with+Nicholas+Sutton+of+the+Oxford+Centre+for+Hindu+Studies
access_time1 year ago
Today I talked to Dr. Nicholas Sutton speaks about his work at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. We discuss his teaching philosophy, his mandate of making the study of Hinduism accessible to public audiences, and the Centre’s exciting collection of online courses. We also talked about two books he's recently published in the Oxford Centre's series on Hinduism: The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Study Guide (Mandala Publishing, 2019) and The Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Study Guide (Mandala Publishing, 2019).
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
 
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Brian+Collins%2C+%22The+Other+R%C4%81ma%3A+Matricide+and+Genocide+in+the+Mythology+of+Para%C5%9Bur%C4%81ma%22+%28SUNY+Press%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
Brian Collins' book The Other Rāma Matricide and Genocide in the Mythology of Paraśurāma (SUNY Press, 2020) examines a fascinating, understudied figure appearing in Sanskrit narrative texts: Paraśurāma, i.e., “Rāma with the Axe”. Though he is counted as among the ten avatāras of Viṣṇu, his biography is quite grisly: Paraśurāma is best known for decapitating his own mother and launching a genocidal campaign to annihilate twenty-one generations of the warrior caste. Why do ancient Sanskrit mythmakers elevate such an arguably transgressive and antisocial figure to so exalted a religious status? The Other Rāma explores this question by undertaking analysis of the Paraśurāma myth cycle using the methods of comparative mythology and psychoanalysis.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Peter+Adamson%2C+%22Classical+Indian+Philosophy%22+%28Oxford+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
In Classical Indian Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2020), Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri survey both the breadth and depth of Indian philosophical traditions. Their odyssey touches on the earliest extant Vedic literature, the Mahābhārata, the Bhagavad-Gīta, the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, the sūtra traditions encompassing logic, epistemology, the monism of Advaita Vedānta, and the spiritual discipline of Yoga. They even include textual traditions typically excluded from overviews of Indian philosophy, e.g., the Cārvāka school, Tantra, and Indian aesthetic theory. They address various significant themes such as non-violence, political authority, and the status of women, and the debate on the influence of Indian thought on Greek philosophy. Interestingly, this publication stems from a podcast series, which we also discuss in this podcast.
Peter Adamson received his BA from Williams College and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He worked at King's College London from 2000 until 2012. He subsequently moved to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen, where he is Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy. He has published widely in ancient and medieval philosophy, and is the host of The History of Philosophy without Any Gaps podcast.
Jonardon Ganeri is a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of Attention, Not Self (2017), The Self (2012), The Lost Age of Reason (2011), and The Concealed Art of the Soul (2007). Ganeri's work draws on a variety of philosophical traditions to construct new positions in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology. He became the first philosopher to win the Infosys Prize in the Humanities in 2015.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Leslie+M.+Harris%2C+%22Slavery+and+the+University%3A+Histories+and+Legacies%22+%28U+Georgia+Press%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the presence of slavery at higher education institutions in terms of the development of proslavery and antislavery thought and the use of slave labor; and (2) analysis on the ways in which the legacies of slavery in institutions of higher education continued in the post–Civil War era to the present day.
The collection features broadly themed essays on issues of religion, economy, and the regional slave trade of the Caribbean. It also includes case studies of slavery’s influence on specific institutions, such as Princeton University, Harvard University, Oberlin College, Emory University, and the University of Alabama. Though the roots of Slavery and the University stem from a 2011 conference at Emory University, the collection extends outward to incorporate recent findings. As such, it offers a roadmap to one of the most exciting developments in the field of U.S. slavery studies and to ways of thinking about racial diversity in the history and current practices of higher education.
Today I spoke with Leslie Harris about the book. Dr. Harris is a professor of history at Northwestern University. She is the coeditor, with Ira Berlin, of Slavery in New York and the coeditor, with Daina Ramey Berry, of Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (Georgia).
Adam McNeil is a History PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
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Archana+Venkatesan%2C+%22Endless+Song%3A+Tiruvaymoli%22+%28Penguin%2C+2010%29
access_time1 year ago
Endless Song (Oxford University Press, 2019) is Dr. Archana Venkatesan’s exquisite translation of the Tiruvaymoli (sacred utterance), a brilliant 1102-verse ninth century tamil poem celebrating the poet Nammalvar’s mystical quest for union with his supreme lord, the Hindu great god Viṣṇu. In this interview we discuss the sophisticated structure and profound content of the Tiruvaymoli, along with the translator’s own transformative journey rending into English the meaning, emotion, cadence and kaleidoscopic brilliance proper to this Tamil masterpiece.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Elizabeth+A.+Cecil%2C+%22Mapping+the+P%C4%81%C5%9Bupata+Landscape%22+%28Brill%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
Elizabeth A. Cecil's Mapping the Pāśupata Landscape: Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early Medieval North India (Brill, 2020) weaves together material from the Sanskrit text Skandapurāṇa, physical landscapes, inscriptions, monuments, and icons to provide groundbreaking insight into the earliest known community of Śiva devotees: the Pāśupatas. Through examining how the Pāśupatas were emplaced in regional Indian landscapes, this book explores issues of belonging, identity, community building and place-making in Early Medieval India.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Susan+Newcombe%2C+%22Yoga+in+Britain%3A+Stretching+Spirituality+and+Educating+Yogis%22+%28Equinox%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
Paying special attention to sociocultural threads form the period 1945-1980, Susan Newcombe's new book Yoga in Britain: Stretching Spirituality and Educating Yogis (Equinox, 2019) charts the trajectory of how yoga in became mainstream in Britain to the point of being taught to thousands of middle-class women in adult education classes. Drawing on archival evidence and interviews, the book shows the diverse figures and movements responsible for the popularization of yoga in Britain.
Suzanne Newcombe is a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University and a Research Fellow at Inform, a charity based at the London School of Economics. She researches yoga and ayurveda from a sociological and social historical perspective.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Pankaj+Jain%2C+%22Dharma+in+America%3A+A+Short+History+of+Hindu-Jain+Diaspora%22+%28Routledge%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
Pankaj Jain, Dharma in America: A Short History of Hindu-Jain Diaspora (Routledge, 2019) provides a concise history of Hindus and Jains in the Americas over the last two centuries, highlighting contributions to the economic and intellectual growth of the US in particular. Pankaj Jain pays special attention to contributions of the Hindu and Jain diasporas in the area of medicine and music. Listen in to learn about these contributions, along with ongoing challenges faced by these ethnic and religious groups face today.
For photos related to the book, see this Facebook page.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Knut+A.+Jacobsen%2C+%22Yoga+in+Modern+Hinduism%3A+Harihar%C4%81nanda+%C4%80ra%E1%B9%87ya+and+S%C4%81%E1%B9%83khyayoga%22+%28Routledge%2C+2017%29
access_time1 year ago
In his book Yoga in Modern Hinduism: Hariharānanda Āraṇya and Sāṃkhyayoga (Routledge, 2017), Knut A. Jacobsen examines the Kāpil Maṭh, a Sāṃkhyayoga institution emerging in the late nineteenth century Bengal. This movement (developing contemporaneously with modern yoga) is centered on the cave-dwelling renunciant yogin Hariharānanda Āraṇya. This book offers a rare glimpse into Sāṃkhyayoga as a living tradition in terms of documenting the practices of modern Sāṃkhyayogins. It moreover maps the production of a novel sort of yogin forged by the nineteenth-century transformations of Bengali upper class religious culture.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.
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Kate+Imy%2C+%22Faithful+Fighters%3A+Identity+and+Power+in+the+British+Indian+Army%22+%28Stanford+UP%2C+2019%29
access_time1 year ago
In her fascinating and remarkable new book Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army (Stanford University Press, 2019), Kate Imy explores the negotiation of religious identity, military service, and imperial power in the context of twentieth century British India. How were preconceived British imperial notions of religion and loyalty to the state attached to indigenous South Asian communities frustrated by the way Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Nepali Gurkha (Hindu and Buddhist) soldiers engaged the state and performed their political and religious identities as part of the British Indian army.
Faithful Fighters is a powerful and brilliant meditation on the impossibility of modern colonial power to canonize religion and religious identity. The six chapters of this book examine a range of archives, themes, theaters, and actors including tensions surrounding the valorization of Sikh loyalty and controversies shadowing the Kirpān (sword), the cooptation of pan-Islamic sentiments for British imperialism, suspicions and sexual desires invested in the figure of the Pathan, Nepali Gurkhas, caste hierarchies, and rituals of purification, debates of food and religion in the military, projects of nationalism through military academies, and masculinity, fascism, and Hindu nationalism.
This thoroughly researched and multidisciplinary book will attract and interest scholars from a range of fields including South Asian history, Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, Military History, and Cultural Studies. Beautifully written, and populated with enticing narratives and images, it will also be a delight to teach in a variety of classes.
SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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Brian+A.+Hatcher%2C+%22Hinduism+Before+Reform%22+%28Harvard+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
Did modern Hinduism truly emerge due to the “reforms” instigated by “progressive” colonial figures such as Rammohun Roy? Brian A. Hatcher's new book Hinduism Before Reform (Harvard University Press, 2020) challenges this prevalent notion. Aimed at sidestepping the obfuscating binary of “progressive” vs “traditional”, this book examines in tandem two early nineteenth-century Hindu communities and their influential leaders: Rammohun Roy (founder of the “progressive” Brahmo Samaj) and Swami Narayan (founder of the “traditional” Swaminarayan Sampraday movement). Hinduism Before Reform advocates a radically different understanding of the origins of modern Hinduism by problematizing the notion of “reform” itself, instead advocating for viewing these movements as “religious polities.”
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.
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Matt+Cook%2C+%22Sleight+of+Mind%3A+75+Ingenious+Paradoxes+in+Mathematics%2C+Physics%2C+and+Philosophy%22+%28MIT+Press%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few collaborators dive deeply into more than 75 paradoxes in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the social sciences. As each paradox is discussed and resolved, Cook helps readers discover the meaning of knowledge and the proper formation of concepts―and how reason can dispel the illusion of contradiction.
The journey begins with “a most ingenious paradox” from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. Readers will then travel from Ancient Greece to cutting-edge laboratories, encounter infinity and its different sizes, and discover mathematical impossibilities inherent in elections. They will tackle conundrums in probability, induction, geometry, and game theory; perform “supertasks”; build apparent perpetual motion machines; meet twins living in different millennia; explore the strange quantum world―and much more.
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Andrew+Ollett%2C+%22Language+of+the+Snakes%22+%28U+California+Press%2C+2017%29
access_time1 year ago
Andrew Ollett, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, argues in his book, Language of the Snakes: (University of California Press, 2017), that Prakrit is “the most important Indian language you’ve never heard of.” In this book, subtitled "Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India," Ollett writes a biography of Prakrit from the perspective of cultural history, arguing that it is a language which challenges modern theorizing about language as a natural human development grounded in speech. Rather, he claims, Prakrit was "invented" and theorized as a self-consciously literary language, opposed to Sanskrit, but yet still part of the Sanskrit cosmopolis and not a vernacular. His book draws on unpublished manuscripts, royal inscriptions, poetry, as well as literary and grammatical texts.
Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019).
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Phillipa+Chong%2C+%E2%80%9CInside+the+Critics%E2%80%99+Circle%3A+Book+Reviewing+in+Uncertain+Times%E2%80%9D+%28Princeton+UP%2C+2020%29
access_time1 year ago
How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the future of criticism. The book is packed with interview material, coupled with accessible and easy to follow theoretical interventions, creating a text that will be of interest to social sciences, humanities, and general readers alike.
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