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Om-Shanti: Studie en Academie Materiaal

Boekbespreking Hinduism

Hindu Pluralism

Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern
South Asia, University of California Press 2017

Elaine Fisher

This book sheds light on the variegated, pluralistic texture of Hinduism in precolonial times. Drawing on Sanskrit, Telugu, and Tamil sources, Fisher argues for a uniquely South Asian form of religious pluralism, evidenced by religious performances in the public space. Her work is crucial for considering the development of Hinduism in the early modern era, and that era’s legacy on modern constructions of Hinduism, calling into question the colonial categories implicit in the term “sectarianism”.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 001:  klik hier







A Contemporary Philosophical
Investigation. Routledge 2018

Shyam Ranganathan

In this book the author argues that a careful philosophical study reveals telling philosophical disagreements across topics such as: ethics, logic, epistemology, moral standing, metaphysics, and politics. His analysis offers an innovative stance on the very study of Hinduism, and tensions between scholars and practitioners of Hindu traditions.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 003:  klik hier


Living Mantra

Mantra, Deity, and Visionary Experience
Today. Palgrave Macmillan 2019

Mani Rao

What role does mantra play in the lives of Hindu practitioners? Mani Rao takes us on a journey to three sacred sites across India’s Andhra-Telangana region. The practitioners she engages at these sites offer insight into their transformative embodied experience of mantra. Rao dovetails scholarship and practice to grapple with the captivating, eye-opening, mind-blowing narratives of the practitioners she engages. This book broaches compelling questions such as: what is the relationship between mantras and deities? Texts? Gurus? Do practitioners relate to mantra as vehicles of meaning, or as aesthetic entities? What is the relationship to sound and visions in mantra practice? What is the role of imagination here? Celebrating lived experience, the book documents the modern-day existence of seers (rishis), thus underscoring the open, ongoing nature of divine revelation in Hindu traditions.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 004:  klik hier


The Performative Ground of Religion and Theatre

Routledge 2018

David V. Mason

To what extent may we say that religion is a theatrical phenomenon, and that theatre is a religious experience? Can making sense of one help us make sense of the other? Join us as we dive into this book where the author posits an intriguing parity between theatre and religion. Drawing heavily from Hindu aesthetic theory and Hindu religious performance, Mason examines the phenomenology of religion in an attempt to better understanding of the phenomenology of theatre, arguing that religion can show us the ways in which theatre is not fake.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 010:  klik hier


The Goddess in Hindu-Tantric Traditions

Devī as Corpse. Routledge, 2018

Anway Mukhopadhyay

Why is the Indian Goddess sometimes figured as a corpse in Tantric Traditions? What is the significance of this? How is it different from when the Hindu god Shiva is figured as a corpse? Centered on the myth of Sati (whereby the Goddess was dismembered after her self-immolation), this book features a fascinating take on why the “death” of the Goddess in this myth is no death at all, especially in contrast to Shiva as corpse.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 014:  klik hier


Rites of the God-King

Santi and Ritual Change in Early
Hinduism, Oxford University Press 2018

Marko Geslani

Is “Vedic” fire sacrifice at odds with “Hindu” image worship? Through a careful study of ritual (santi) texts geared towards appeasement of inauspicious forces (primarily the Atharva Veda and in the Brhatsamhitā, an Indian astrological work), Marko Geslani demonstrates the persistent significance and centrality of the work of Brahmanical priesthood from ancient to medieval to modern times. In doing so he aptly problematizes the scholarly tendency to demarcate Vedic ritual from popular Hinduism.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 016:  klik hier


Reciting the Goddess

Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism
in Nepal, Oxford University Press 2018

Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz

This book represents the very first study of a fascinating Hindu phenomenon: the Svasthanivratakatha (SVK), a sixteenth-century narrative textual tradition native to Nepal surrounding the Goddess, Svasthānī. This work explores Himalayan Hindu religious tradition in the making during the very self-conscious creation of Nepal as the “world's only Hindu kingdom” in the early modern period. Touching on the pan-Hindu goddess tradition, regional ideals of Hindu womanhood, linguistic culture, identity formation and placemaking.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 018:  klik hier


The History of the Arthasastra

Sovereignty and Sacred Law in
Ancient India, Cambridge UP 2019

Mark McClish

Was ancient India ruled by politics or religion? This book explores the Arthasāstra (ancient India’s foundational treatise on statecraft and governance) to problematize the common scholarly idea that politics in ancient India was circumscribed by religion, i.e., that kings prioritized a sacred duty to abide by the spiritual law of dharma. McClish shows that this model of kingship comes to the fore only in the classical period, demonstrating that the Arthasāstra originally espoused a political philosophy marked by empiricism and pragmatism.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 023:  klik hier


Imagining Religious Communities

Transnational Hindus and their Narrative
Performances, Oxford University Press 2019

Jennifer B. Saunders

This book tells the story of the Gupta family through the personal and religious narratives they tell as they create and maintain their extended family and community across national borders. Based on ethnographic research, the book demonstrates the ways that transnational communities are involved in shaping their experiences through narrative performances, it demonstrates that narrative performances shape participants' social realities in multiple ways: they define identities, they create connections between community members living on opposite sides of national borders, and they help create new homes amidst increasing mobility. The narratives are religious and include epic narratives such as excerpts from the Ramayana as well as personal narratives with dharmic implications. The analysis combines scholarly understandings of the ways in which performances shape the contexts in which they are told, indigenous comprehension of the power that reciting certain narratives can have on those who hear them, and the theory that social imaginaries define new social realities through expressing the aspirations of communities. This book argues that this Hindu community's religious narrative performances significantly contribute to shaping their transnational lives.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 029:  klik hier


Hinduism Before Reform

Harvard University Press 2020

Brian A. Hatcher

Did modern Hinduism truly emerge due to the “reforms” instigated by “progressive” colonial figures such as Rammohun Roy? This book 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). This book 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.”

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 030:  klik hier


Dharma in America

A Short History of Hindu-
Jain Diaspora, Routledge 2019

Pankaj Jain

This book 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 032:  klik hier


A Conversation witn Nicholas Sutton

Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
New Books Network 2020

Nicholas Sutton

Today I talked to Dr. Nicholas Sutton 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 038:  klik hier


The Regulation of Religion and the
Making of Hinduism in Colonial Trinidad

University of North Carolina Press 2019

Alexander Rocklin

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. The author 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 039:  klik hier


The Many Faces of a Himalayan Goddess

Hadimba, Her Devotees and Religion in
Rapid Change, Oxford University Press 2019

Ehud Halperin

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 book 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 049:  klik hier


Crossing the Lines of Caste

Visvamitra and the Construction of Brahmin Power in
Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press 2015

Adheesh Sathaye

What does it mean to be a Brahmin, and what could it mean to become one? The ancient Indian mythological figure Visvāmitra accomplishes just this, transforming himself from a king into a Brahmin by cultivation of ascetic power. The book examines legends of the irascible Visvāmitra 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 051:  klik hier


Loving Stones

Making the Impossible Possible in the Worship of
Mount Govardhan, Oxford University Press 2020

David L. Haberman

This book 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 054:  klik hier


Material Acts in Everyday Hindu Worlds

Suny Press 2020

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger

In her fascinating book, the author 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 055:  klik hier


Woman as Fire, Woman as Sage

Sexual Ideology in the Mahabharata
Suny Press 2008

Arti Dhand

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. 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.
Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 058:  klik hier


Temples of Modernity

Nationalism, Hinduism and Transhumanism in
South Indian Science, Lexington Books 2018

Robert M. Geraci

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. The book 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 063:  klik hier


Rabbi on the Ganges

A Jewish-Hindu Encounter
Lexington Books 2019

Alan Brill

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? This 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 064:  klik hier


Contemplative Studies in Hinduism

Meditation, Devotion, Prayer
and Worship, Routledge 2020

Rita D. Sherma and Purushottama Bilimoria

What counts as contemplative practices in Hinduism? What can Hindu Studies offer Contemplative Studies as a discipline? This book 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 Sāmkhya and Patañjali Yoga, the Bhāgavata Purāna, the role of Sādhana in Advaita Vedānta, Srīvidyā and the Srīcakra, the body in Tantra, the semiotics and illocution of Gaudīya Vaisnava sādhana, mantra in Mīmāmsā, Vaisnava 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 066:  klik hier


Devi Mahatmyam

The Glory of the Goddess
Raconteurs Audio LLP 2020

Tim Bruce

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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 067:  klik hier


A Garland of Forgotten Goddesses

Tales of the Feminine Divine from India and
Beyond, University of California Press 2020

Michael Slouber

The book 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 goddesses historical and social context, demonstrating the ways religion changes over time.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 068:  klik hier


Vicissitudes of the Goddesses

Reconstructions of the Gramadevata in India’s
Religious Traditions, Oxford University Press 2013


Here the focus is 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.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 069:  klik hier


The Contemporary Hindu Temple

Fragments for a History
Marg Foundation 2019

Annapurna Garimella

Contemporary Hindu temples raise aesthetic, economic, political and philosophical questions about the role of architecture in making a place for the sacred in society. This book presents the Hindu temple from the perspectives of institutions and individuals, including priests, building practitioners and worshippers, to consider what it means when the temple is no longer at the centre of Indic life, but has instead become one among several important sites of social praxis. The book takes as its subject the multiple forms of architecture, design and sociability that Hindu spaces of worship encompass today. The essays cover shrines located in urban and rural India, where Hindu temples are being maintained, resuscitated or newly constructed at a rapid pace. The authors of the essays in this volume take the contemporary as a moment in which historic structures, modern renovations, evolving religiosities and new design and construction practices intersect and converge. This centres the temple in a landscape of automobility, wireless connectivity and economic reformation, at the crossroads of informal acts of insertion, formal planning and governmentality, or as an architect-designed structure consciously being pushed toward the fresh horizons that a changing society offers. By focusing on a variety of structures, large and small, on expansive forms of encroachment, and on incremental acts of negotiation and seemingly insignificant processes, small feelings and pieties, this book nuances and expands our understanding of the Hindu temple today.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 072:  klik hier


Gandhi and Rajchandra

The Making of the Mahatma
Lexington Books 2020

Uma Majmudar

This book traces the little-known yet unparalleled influence of Shrimad Rajchandra, Jain zaveri (jeweller)-cum-spiritual seeker, on Mahatma Gandhi. In examining original Gujarati writings of both Gandhi and Rajchandra, Majmudar explores their deeply formative relationship, unfolding the unique impact of Rajchandra’s teachings and contributions upon Gandhi. Through careful examination of the contents and significance of their intimate spiritual discussions, letters, questions and answers, the book illuminates the role of the man who became Gandhi’s most trusted friend, exemplar, mentor and refuge.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 073:  klik hier


Ownership and Inheritance in Sanskrit Jurisprudence

Oxford University Press 2021

Christopher T. Fleming

This book provides an account of various theories of ownership (svatva) and inheritance (dāya) in Sanskrit jurisprudential literature (Dharmasāstra). It examines the evolution of different juridical models of inheritance - in which families held property in trusts or in tenancies-in-common - against the backdrop of related developments in the philosophical understanding of ownership in the Sanskrit text-traditions of hermeneutics (Mīmāmsā) and logic (Nyāya) respectively. The author reconstructs medieval Sanskrit theories of property and traces the emergence of various competing schools of Sanskrit jurisprudence during the early modern period (roughly fifteenth-nineteenth centuries) in Bihar, Bengal, and Varanasi. Fleming attends to the ways in which ideas from these schools of jurisprudence shaped the codification of Anglo-Hindu personal law by administrators of the British East India Company during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. While acknowledging the limitations of colonial conceptions of Dharmasāstra as positive law, this study argues for far greater continuity between pre-colonial and colonial Sanskrit jurisprudence than accepted previously. It charts the transformation of the Hindu law of inheritance - through precedent and statute - over the late nineteenth, twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 091:  klik hier


An Indian Tantric Tradition and Its Modern Global Revival

Contemporary Nondual
Saivism, Routledge 2020

Douglas Osto

Osto analyses the contemporary global revival of Nondual Saivism, a thousand-year-old medieval Hindu religious philosophy. Providing a historical overview of the seminal people and groups responsible for the revival, the book compares the tradition's medieval Indian origins to modern forms, which are situated within distinctively contemporary religious, economic, and technological contexts. The author bridges the current gap in the literature between “insider” (emic) and “outsider” (etic) perspectives by examining modern Nondual Saivism from multiple standpoints as both a critical scholar of religion and an empathetic participant-observer. Osto explores modern Nondual Saivism in relation to recent scholarly debates concerning the legitimacy of New Age consumptive spirituality, the global spiritual marketplace, and the contemporary culture of narcissism. It also analyses the dark side of the revived tradition, and investigates contemporary teachers accused of sexual abuse and illegal financial activities in relation to unique features of Nondual Saivism's theosophy and modern scholarship on new religious movements (NRMs) and cults. This book shows that, although Kashmir Saivism has been adopted by certain teachers and groups to market their own brand of “High Tantra”, some contemporary practitioners have remained true to the system's fundamental tenets and teach authentic (albeit modern) forms of Nondual Saivism. This book will be of interest to academics in the fields of religion and Asian philosophies, especially South Asian, tantric, neo-tantric and yoga philosophies, alternative and New Age spiritualities, religion and consumerism, and new religious movements (NRMs) and cults.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 097:  klik hier


Till Kingdom Come

Medieval Hinduism in the Modern
Himalaya, Suny Press 2021

Lokesh Ohri

Hinduism, as is well known, has taken a multitude of shapes and forms. Some Hindu “little traditions” have remained obscure or understudied to this day due to their regional remoteness. One such offshoot is the influential cult of Mahasu, which has existed since medieval times in a part of the western Himalaya. The deity at the core of the cult takes the form of four primary Mahasus with territorial influence, installed in various far-flung temples. Their geographical center is the village of Hanol, and the larger territory is integrated into the Mahasu politico-religious system by a peripatetic deity with loyal followers across a considerable domain. Mahasu remains influential in the region, its ritual practices having remained quite distinct despite social change. An anthropological survey was conducted in its terrain during British times, but this is the first book to offer a detailed framework, a fine-grained history, and an analytically nuanced understanding of one of the rarest branches of Hindu worship

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 098:  klik hier


The Reluctant Family Man

Shiva in Everyday Life
Penguin Enterprise 2019

Chitgopekar Nilima

He’s the destroyer of evil, the pervasive one in whom all things lie. He is brilliant, terrifying, wild and beneficent. He is both an ascetic and a householder, both a yogi and a guru. He encompasses the masculine and the feminine, the powerful and the graceful, the Tandava and the Laasya, the darkness and the light, the divine and the human. What can we learn from this bundle of contradictions, this dreadlocked yogi? How does he manage the devotions and duties of father, husband and man of the house, and the demands and supplications of a clamorous cosmos? In this book the author uses the life and personality of Shiva - his self-awareness, his marriage, his balance, his detachment, his contentment - to derive lessons that readers can practically apply to their own lives. With chapters broken down into distinct frames of analysis, she defines concepts of Shaivism and interprets their application in everyday life.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 121:  klik hier


Indian Mythology

New Books Network 2021

Brian Collins

What insights on the human experience can we find in ancient Indian mythology? Join us as we speak to Dr. Brian Collins (Associate Professor, Chair Department of Classics and Religious Studies, Ohio University) about his work on Parasu-Rāma, the brahmin who decapitates his own mother and annihilates 21 generations of the warriors.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 122:  klik hier


In the Service of Krishna

Illustrating the Lives of Eight-Four Vaishnavas
from a 1702 Manuscript, Mapin Publishing 2020

Emilia Bachrach

The Pushtimarg, or the Path of Grace, is a Hindu tradition whose ritual worship of the deity Krishna has developed in close relationship to a distinct genre of early-modern Hindi prose hagiography. This book introduces readers to the most popular hagiographic text of the Pushtimarg which tells the sacred life stories of the community's first preceptor Vallabhacharya (1497-1531) and his most beloved disciples. This book focuses on the only extant Chaurasi Vaishnavan ki Varta manuscript dated to the beginning of the 18th century, now in artist Amit Ambalal's collection. The volume will appeal to scholars and students of Indian art and literature, to those who have grown up in the Pushtimarg tradition, and more broadly to those with an appreciation for the distinct ways in which pictures can tell stories that unite the everyday with intimate experiences of the Divine.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 138:  klik hier


Performing the Ramayana Tradition

Enactments, Interpretations and
Arguments, Oxford University Press 2021

Paula Richman and Rustom Bharucha

This book examines diverse retellings of the Ramayana narrative as interpreted and embodied through a spectrum of performances. Unlike previous publications, this book is neither a monograph on a single performance tradition nor a general overview of Indian theatre. Instead, it provides context-specific analyses of selected case studies that explore contemporary enactments of performance traditions and the narratives from which they draw: Kutiyattam, Nangyarkuttu and Kathakali from Kerala; Kattaikkuttu and a “mythological” drama from Tamilnadu; Talamaddale from Karnataka; avant-garde performances from Puducherry and New Delhi; a modern dance-drama from West Bengal; the monastic tradition of Sattriya from Assam; anti-caste plays from North India; and the Ramnagar Ramlila.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 148:  klik hier


The Radha Tantra

A Critical Edition and Annotated
Translation, Routledge 2016

Mans Broo

The Rādhā Tantra is an anonymous 17th-century tantric text from Bengal. This book offers a lively picture of the meeting of different religious traditions in 17th century Bengal, since it presents a Sākta version of the famous Vaisnava story of Rādhā and Krsna. This book presents a critically edited text of the Rādhā Tantra, based on manuscripts in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as an annotated translation It is prefaced by an introduction that situates the text in its social and historical context and discusses its significance.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 154:  klik hier


Kali in Bengali Lives

Narratives of Religious Experience
Lexington Books 2021

Suchitra Samanat

The author examines Bengalis' personal narratives of Kali devotion in the Bhakti tradition. These personal experiences, including miraculous encounters, reflect on broader understandings of divine power. Where the revelatory experience has long been validated in Indian epistemology, the devotees' own interpretive framework provides continuity within a paradigm of devotion and of the miraculous experience as intuitive insight (anubhuti) into a larger truth. Through these unique insights, the miraculous experience is felt in its emotional power, remembered, and reflected upon. The narratives speak to how the meaning of a religious figure, Kali, becomes personally significant and ultimately transformative of the devotee's self.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 160:  klik hier


Devotional Hindu Dance

A Return to the Sacred
Palgrave Macmillan 2021

Sabrina D. MisirHiralall

This book sheds light on the purpose of Hindu dance as devotional. The author explains the history of Hindu dance and how colonization caused the dance form to move from sacred to a Westernized system that emphasizes culture. Postcolonialism is a main theme throughout this text, as religion and culture do not remain static. The author points to a postcolonial return to Hindu dance as a religious and sacred dance form while positioning Hindu dance in the Western culture in which she lives.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 165:  klik hier


Nine Nights of Power

Durgā, Dolls, and Darbārs
Suny Press 2021

Ute Hüsken, Vasudha Narayanan and Astrid Zotter

The autumnal Navarātri festival - also called Durgā Pūjā, Dassehra, or Dasai - is the most important Hindu festival in South Asia and wherever Hindus settle. A nine-night-long celebration in honor of the goddess Durgā, it ends on the tenth day with a celebration called “the victorious tenth” (vijayadasamī). The rituals that take place in domestic, royal, and public spaces are closely connected with one’s station in life and dependent on social status, economic class, caste, and gender issues. Exploring different aspects of the festival as celebrated in diverse regions of South Asia and in the South Asian diaspora, this book addresses the following common questions: What does this festival do? What does it achieve, and how? Why and in what way does it sometimes fail? How do mass communication and social media increase participation in and contribute to the changing nature of the festival? The contributors address these questions from multiple perspectives and discuss issues of agency, authority, ritual efficacy, change, appropriation, and adaptation. Because of the festival’s reach beyond its diverse celebrations in South Asia, its influence can be seen in the rituals and dances in many parts of Western Europe and North America.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 166:  klik hier


A Conversation with Vasudha Narayan about Hindu Studies

New Books Network 2021

Vasudha Narayanan

Raj Balkaran has a candid conversation with seasoned scholar the author about her academic journey, the current state of Hindu Studies and her ground-breaking work on Hindu temples and traditions in Cambodia. Dr. Narayanan is Distinguished Professor, Department of Religion, at the University of Florida, Director for the Centre for the Study of Hinduism and former President of the American Academy of Religion.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 168:  klik hier


A Conversation with Hanuman Dass

Founder and Chairman of Go
Dharmic, New Books Network 2022

Hanuman Dass

Raj Balkaran interviews Hanuman Dass, Chairman and Founder of Go Dharmic, about his far-reaching humanitarian work and universal vision if Hindu values. We also touch on his co-authored works with Dr. Nick Sutton of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Raj Balkaran: Audio - Podcast 174:  klik hier


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