Associate Professor, Religious Studies
- BA, MA (Concordia)
- PhD (McMaster)
I was born and raised in Montreal, and hold BA and MA degrees in Religious Studies from Concordia University, and a PhD in Religious Studies from McMaster University. My doctoral dissertation treated the two concluding books of the Mahabharata, a 4th century Sanskrit epic poem. I have studied Sanskrit at the University of British Columbia, McMaster University, and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune, India, where I also undertook manuscript research on Mahabharata commentarial literature. Before coming to Dalhousie, I taught Introductory and Intermediate Sanskrit at McMaster University and South Asian Religions at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Since 2009 I have been teaching undergraduate courses at Dalhousie on all major religious traditions of South and East Asia (Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Indian and Theravada Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Popular Chinese Religion, Chinese Buddhism, Shinto, Popular Japanese Religion, Japanese Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism), as well as Sanskrit and South Asian history.
The figure around whom my more recent research revolves is the Hindu god Vishnu, particularly in his manifestation as Vasudeva Krishna. Four Sanskrit texts -- the Mahabharata, Harivamsha, Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana -- constitute key sources for this research. Recent works include a monograph on Krishna's son (Pradyumna, OUP, 2019), funded by a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant ("Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa's Family in Early Sanskrit Traditions: Divine Incarnation and Human Descent in the Mahābhārata and Harivaṃśa", 2011-2014) and an annotated translation of a 13th century Sanskrit play from Kerala (Pradyumnabhyudaya of Ravivarman, Harrassowitz, 2019). My continuing research focuses on the religious significance of literary, gender, aesthetic, and social dynamics of Sanskritic culture across the broad period ca. 0-1500 CE.
Teaches (Bold: teaching in 2021-22)
- RELS 1001 Religions of the East
- RELS/CLAS 1600 Introductory Sanskrit I
- RELS 2011 Hinduism
- RELS 2012/CHIN 2060 Chinese and Japanese Religions
- RELS 2013/CHIN 2070 Buddhism
- RELS/CLAS 2600 Introductory Sanskrit II
- RELS/HIST 2509 Hindu, Muslim, Sikh: Identity, Culture and State in Pre-Colonial South Asia
- RELS/HIST 2510 Hindu, Muslim, Sikh: Locating the Trauma of Modern South Asia
- RELS 3000 Topics in Religious Studies
- RELS 3101 The Self and the World in Indian Story
- RELS 3111 Vishnu and Krishna the Dark Lord
- RELS 3112 Buddhism in India and Tibet
- RELS 3113 The Mahabharata
- RELS 3114: Special Topics in Eastern Religions: Kalidasa's World
- RELS/CLAS 3600 Sanskrit Texts I: Narrative and Epic Selections
- RELS 4310 Topics in Comparative Religion
- RELS/CLAS 4600 Sanskrit Texts II: Myth, Poetry and Drama
2021. "The Corporeal vaṃśa: Seizure and Restriction of the Body in the Harivaṃśa." Rethinking the Body in South Asian Traditions, edited by Diana Dimitrova. Routledge.
2020. "The Pārijātaharaṇa Narrative in Early Sanskrit Sources." Asian Literature and Translation 7(1): 16-32.
2019. Pradyumna: Lover, Magician and Scion of the Avatāra. Oxford University Press
2019. "Kṛṣṇa's Son Pradyumna as Kāma and Māyin in the 'Kārṣṇa' Purāṇas." Purānic Studies: Proceedings of the Purāṇa Section of the 17th World Sanskrit Conference, July 9-13, 2018, edited by Raj Balkaran and McComas Taylor. Dept. of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia Canada (79-95). https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/70440/items/1.0379613
2019. The Pradyumnābhyudaya of King Ravivarman: A New Sanskrit Text of the Trivandrum Edition and English Translation. Drama und Theater in Südasien Series no.12, Harrassowitz Verlag.
2018. "The Abducted Male: Sexual Conquest, Lineage and Divinity in the Narratives of Pradyumna and Aniruddha." in Divinizing in South Asian Traditions, edited by Diana Dimitrova and Tatiana Oranskaia. Routledge: 6-26.
2018. "Rukmiṇī". Jain P., Sherma R., Khanna M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_555-1.
2018. "Viṣṇu". Jain P., Sherma R., Khanna M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_262-1.
2018. "Harivaṃśa". Jain P., Sherma R., Khanna M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_381-1.
2018. "Satyabhāmā". Jain P., Sherma R., Khanna M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_651-1.
2015. “Lifting the Meanings of Govardhana Mountain: A Review Essay.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 23 (2): 5-25.
2015. Review, Heroic Kṛṣṇa: Friendship in Epic Mahābhārata. Kevin McGrath. Boston: Ilex Foundation, 2013. Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 44 (3): 399-402. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0008429815599723k
2014. "The Abduction of Śrī-Rukmiṇī: Politics, Genealogy and Theology in Harivaṃśa 87-90." Religious Studies and Theology 33 (1): 23-46. DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v33i1.23
2013. "The Fructification of the Tale of a Tree: The Pārijātaharaṇa in the Harivaṃśa and its Appendices." Journal of the American Oriental Society 133 (2): 249-268. DOI: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7817/jameroriesoci.133.2.0249
2013. Review, Narrative Art in the Mahābhārata: The Ādi Parva. Pradip Bhattacharya. Delhi: Dev Publishers, 2012. International Journal of Hindu Studies 17 no.1: 87-92.
2012. Review, Studying Hinduism in Practice. Hilary P. Rodrigues, ed. Taylor & Francis, 2011 in Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses 41 no.1: 129-131. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/000842981104100110
2011. "The Mystery of the Syamantaka Jewel: The Intersection of Genealogy and Biography in the Harivaṃśa." Religions of South Asia 5 nos.1 & 2: 153-169. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1558/rosa.v5i1/2.153
2011. "Draupadī's Fall: Snowballs, Cathedrals, and Synchronous Readings of the Mahābhārata." International Journal of Hindu Studies 15 (1): 111-137. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-011-9101-z
2011. "Evaluating the Critical Edition of the Mahābhārata: Inferential Mileage and the Apparatus Materials."Journal of Vaishnava Studies 19 (2): 71-88.
2010. Review, Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods. Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, eds. London and New York: Routledge, 2008 in Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses 39: 107-109.
2009. "Janamejaya's Last Question." Journal of Indian Philosophy 37 (6): 597-625. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-009-9075-y
2008. "The sārasvata yātsattra in Mahābhārata 17 and 18." International Journal of Hindu Studies 12 (3): 283-308. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-008-9064-x
2007. Review, God of Desire: Tales of Kāmadeva in Sanskrit Story Literature by Catherine Benton. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006 in Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses 36: 593-594.
Select Conference Papers
"Subrahmaṇya Kṛṣṇa: Stolen and Unstolen Cows in the Mahābhārata and Harivaṃśa." Transdisciplinary Approaches to the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata International Online Seminar Series. Centre for Asian Studies, Cardiff University, Wales. June 24th 2021.
"Is the Mahābhārata a Vaiṣṇava Text? The Great Epic Between Indo-European and Purāṇic Systems of Meaning." Invited lecture, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, June 19, 2021.
"Two rasas for the Price of One: Collapsing śṛṅgāra and vīra in Sanskrit Literature." Annual Meeting, Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (Canadian Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, June 3rd 2019.
"Kṛṣṇa's Son Pradyumna as Kāma and māyin in the Viṣṇu, Bhāgavata and Brahmavaivarta Purāṇas." 17th World Sanskrit Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. July 14th 2018.
"The vamsa as Body: Seizure, Illness and Restriction of the Body in the Harivamsa." 6e Congrès Asie, SciencesPo, Paris, France. June 26-28 2017.
"Narratology and Sanskrit Epic Literature: Insights and Limits of Genette for the Study of the Mahābhārata and Harivaṃśa." "Historicizing Narratology" International Workshop, Institute of Egyptology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. May 5-6 2017.
"Ravivarman's garbhāṅka: Theatre and Theology in the Pradyumnābhyudaya." 41st Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions. Cardiff University Centre for the History of Religion in Asia, St. Michael's College, Cardiff University, Wales. Apr. 15-17 2016.
"The Abducted Male: Lineage, Sexual Conquest and Captivity in the Vrishni Narratives." 23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies. Zürich, Switzerland. July 23rd-26th 2014
"Vrishnis and Vyuhas: Revisiting Narrative and Ritual in the Harivamsa and Pancaratra System." 42nd Annual Conference on South Asia. Madison, WI. Oct. 17th - 20th 2013
Panel convener and chair: Panel: "Ritual, Myth and Identity: Rethinking 'Sectarian' Hinduism in Sanskrit Ritual and Narrative. 42nd Annual Conference on South Asia. Madison, WI. Oct. 17th - 20th 2013
"Hindu and Jain Visions of Pradyumna: The Avatara's Avatara." Conference on the Study of Religions of India (CSRI): “Not Quite Divine: Co-stars and Supporting Casts in South Asian Religions,” Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, June 27-30th 2013
"The Master of Illusion: Krishna’s Tricky Son Pradyumna in the Harivaṁśa and its Appendices." 223rd Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Portland, OR. March 15-18th 2013
"The Master of Illusion: Krishna’s Tricky Son Pradyumna in the Harivaṁśa and its Appendices." South Asia Workshop 2012"Worlds of South Asia," University of Copenhagen, Sept. 17th 2012
"The Raising of Govardhana Mountain: Kṛṣṇa’s Divine Intervention in the Braj Landscape."Fantastic Narratives and the Natural World Conference, Dalhousie University, April 27- 28th 2012
"Transplanting the Tale of a Tree: The Pārijātaharaṇa in the Harivaṃśa and its Appendices." 222ndAnnual Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Boston, MA. March 16-19th 2012
"The Wives of the Dark Lord: Kṛṣṇa as Gṛhasthin in the Harivaṃśa and Viṣṇu Purāṇa." Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (Canadian Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences), Fredericton, NB. May 30th 2011
Panel convener and presenter: Panel: The Mahābhārata: End and Endings (Religion in South Asia Section). Paper: "Draupadī's Fall: Narrative Continuity and the Problem of Symmetries in the Mahābhārata." 2010 Annual International Meeting, American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA. Oct.29th- Nov. 1st 2010
"Help from Old Friends: Nīlakaṇṭha's Role in Evaluating the Critical Edition of the Mahābhārata." 39th Annual Conference on South Asia. Madison, WI. Oct. 14th- 17th 2010
"The Mystery of the Syamantaka Jewel: The Intersection of Genealogy and Biography in the Harivaṃśa." The Genealogy of History, the History of Genealogy: Family and the Narrative Construction of the Significant Past in Early South Asia. Cardiff University Centre for the History of Religion in Asia, Cardiff University, Wales, May 26th - 29th 2010