Research and Pedagogy on South Asia and Global Hindu Traditions CHiTra Mela IV, February 14-16, 2020

Organizer: Vasudha Narayanan (Distinguished Professor); Co-organizers: Venu Mehta and Carol Rodriguez (Graduate Students), Religion


Chris Ballengee (Anne Arundel Community College, PhD, Ethnomusicology 2013, University of Florida)

Sweet Tassa: A documentary film about music, politics, and belonging in Trinidad & Tobago

Christopher L. Ballengee teaches courses in world music, popular music, music history, music and gender, and anthropology. Ballengee holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Florida. Ballengee’s wide-ranging research interests include music of the Caribbean, world music pedagogy, online and hybrid teaching methods, theater sound design, and ethnographic film.  His scholarly work in ethnomusicology has centered on the music of Trinidad and Tobago, especially that of the Indian diaspora. His dissertation, “From Indian to Indo-Creole: Tassa Drumming, Creolization, and Indo-Caribbean Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago,” is the first large-scale study of tassa drumming that highlights the organology, repertoire and socio-cultural impact of tassa performance. Ballengee’s research has been presented at numerous regional, national and international conferences.


Richard Batchelor (MA, Dec. 2019, University of Florida)

“’You’re Nobody ‘til Samadhi Loves You’: A Comparative Investigation of Swami Vivekananda and Aleister Crowley’s Understanding of Samadhi.”

Richard Batchelor recently received an MA in Religion, with a focus on Method and Theory and Hindu Traditions, from the University of Florida. He previously graduated cum laude from the University of Florida, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Religion. As an undergraduate, he won the Department of Religion’s Russell Lowell Jaberg Award for Academic Excellence for his paper “The Kapalikas: Sect or Style?” The primary area of his graduate research was the historical interaction between Western esotericism and South Asian religion, with a special focus on British occultist Aleister Crowley and his successors’ adaptation of Indian philosophy and technic. In addition to this emphasis, he is interested in Hindu and Buddhist yoga and tantra, Sanskrit studies, and critical theory, particularly deconstruction, post-structuralism, and post-colonialism.


Gil Ben-Herut (Associate Professor, University of South Florida)

Three Moments in the History of Vacanas.

Dr. Gil Ben-Herut is an Associate Professor in the Religious Studies Department, University of South Florida. His research interests include pre-modern religious literature in the Kannada language, South Asian bhakti (devotional) traditions, translation in South Asia, and programming for Digital Humanities. Dr. Ben-Herut’s book Śiva’s Saints: The Origins of Devotion in Kannada according to Harihara’s Ragaḷegaḷu (Oxford University Press) is the first study in English of the earliest Śaiva hagiographies in the Kannada-speaking region and has received the 2019 First Book Award of the Southeastern Medieval Association (SEMA).


Prema Bhat (Performing Artist, Independent Scholar, and Adjunct Instructor, USF)

The challenges of composing music for the Vachana Sahitya of the 12th century Shiva Sharanas

Prema Bhat is an accomplished Indian Carnatic classical vocalist from South India with A Master’s degree in Carnatic singing and Theory.  She is a former faculty member at Dept of Music at Emory University, Atlanta, where she taught Carnatic singing and Indian classical theory ( 1997-2006). She has also taught at the  University of Cagliari, Italy  (2011).  She has performed extensively both in India and US and Italy and has given several lecture -demonstrations in Indian classical music. Apart from being a performer and a teacher, she also composes music for the songs of Haridasa of Karnataka ( 15th C) and also the Vachana Sahitya of Shiva Sharanas(12th C). Currently, she teaches a mindfulness class ( Yoga, Pranayama, meditation) for the medical and art college students at USF and also gives guest lectures in Indian music at the music departments of USF, Tampa University, Eckerd Colleg, St Petersberg.


Vineet Chander (Princeton University)  and Lucinda Mosher (author, Independent Scholar, Florida)  Joint Presentation

Hindu Approaches to Spiritual Care: Chaplaincy in Theory and Practice, An Emerging Field in the Diaspora

Vineet Chander is the Coordinator for Hindu Life and Hindu Chaplain at Princeton University and a Religious Life Leader at the Lawrenceville School. He was the first person in the nation to serve as a full-time Hindu chaplain in a college or university context. Vineet is also the Veera and Sam S. Jain Scholar of Vedanta Studies at New York University, where he is currently a doctoral student in higher education. He is co-author of Hindu Chaplaincy (2017).

Dr. Lucinda Mosher is Faculty Associate in Interfaith Studies at Hartford Seminary (Connecticut) and former director of its Multifaith Chaplaincy Program. She is the author of various books and articles pertaining to spiritual care in multireligious contexts and other interreligious concerns. Lucinda is based in northeast Florida, where she presides over NeighborFaith Consultancy.


Jonathan Edelmann (Assistant Professor, University of Florida)

“The Sanskrit works of Jīva Gosvāmin in the Modern Period of Hinduism”

Jonathan Edelmann is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and an Affiliated Faculty in the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions at the University of Florida. Edelmann’s research is on the Bhagavata Purana and its commentaries, and their philosophical and theological context. His book, Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhagavata Purana and Contemporary Theory (Oxford University Press) won a John Templeton Foundation Award from the Forschungszentrum Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Edelmann has also published in the area of science and religion, and Indology in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Zygon, the Journal of Consciousness Studies, the International Journal of Hindu Studies, the Journal of Hindu Studies, Biology & Philosophy, the Journal of Vaishnava Studies, and others. At the University of Florida Edelmann has taught courses on Sanskrit, Asian Religion, and Science and Religion.


Phillip Green (OhioHealth; PhD University of Florida, 2014)

Examples from the Past: Early Khmer Responses to Caring for the Sick

Dr. Phillip Green is a former professor of religious studies who currently serves as a hospital chaplain for the OhioHealth healthcare system in central Ohio. Dr. Green earned his PhD in religion from the University of Florida where he specialized in Buddhist and Hindu traditions of early South and Southeast Asia. Dr. Green’s previous research on the Buddhist traditions of Khmers has been published in peer-reviewed sources such as the History of Religionsjournal, Udaya: Journal of Khmer Studies, and the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.



Dustin Hall  (MA, Dec. 2019, University of Florida)

Sanskrit 101: A discussion of best Sanskrit pedagogy practices

Dustin is a recent MA graduate from the University of Florida.  He currently serves as Adjunct Lecturer for the Dial Center for Written and Oral Communication at UF teaching Public Speaking. In his spare time, his MA studies are never far from mind as he tends to think of project after project he could have done while at UF, and this serves as inspiration to pursue a PhD in Hindu or Sanskrit studies in the near future.


Sucheta Kanjilal (Assistant Professor, English, University of Tampa)

Marketing Tradition and Willful Bollywood Women 

Sucheta Kanjilal is Assistant Professor of English and Writing at the University of Tampa. Her research interests include novels and poetry of the British Empire, Modern Hinduism, Gender and Sexuality, Hindi Literature, and Colonialism.


Amy Paris Langenberg (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Eckerd College, Fl)

Did the Buddha Teach Consent?

Amy Paris Langenberg is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Eckerd College, where she also teaches in the Women’s and Gender Studies, Animal Studies, and Environmental Studies programs. She is a specialist in South Asian Buddhism with a focus on gender, sexuality, the body, and monastic law. She also conducts research on contemporary Buddhist feminism and female Buddhist monasticism. Her monograph, Birth in Buddhism: The Suffering Fetus and Female Freedom was published by Routledge in 2017. In addition, she has published articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, History of Religions, Religions, Religion Compass, and the Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics. Dr. Langenberg’s current project is a collaborative book on generative responses to sexual abuse in American Buddhism, to be co-written with Ann Gleig (Universtiy of Central Florida) and published with Yale University Press.


Bhakti Mamtora (Assistant Professor, College of Wooster, Ohio; PhD, University of Florida 2019)

Rethinking Good and Goodness in the Swamini Vato

Bhakti Mamtora is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Wooster. Her research examines the genesis and reception of nineteenth century Gujarati texts of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. More broadly, she is interested in the relationship of orality and textuality, print culture, and digital media in Hindu traditions.


Ali Mian (Assistant Professor, Religion, University of Florida)

​”Muslim Writings on the Hindu Tradition in Colonial India.” 

Ali Altaf Mian is Izzat Hasan Sheikh Fellow in Islamic Studies and Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Florida. His research and teaching interests include Islam in South Asia, Muslim ethics, gender and sexuality in contemporary Islam, and Sufism. He is currently working on two book projects: Surviving Modernity: Ashraf ‘Ali Thanvi and the Genres of Muslim Selfhood in Colonial India and Muslims in South Asia​.


Jason McCombs (Assistant Professor, Santa Fe College, Gainesville)

Words and Wordplay in a Mahayana Buddhist Sutra.

Jason McCombs graduated from UCLA in 2014 with a focus on Indian Buddhist Studies. His research interests include Mahayana Sutra and Shastra literature, Indian epigraphy, and religious gift giving in South Asia.

He currently is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Santa Fe College.


Joshua McKinley (MA, Dec. 2019, UF)

“Naṭātūr Ammāl and the Prapanna Pārijāta: Exploring Connections to the Teṉkalai and Vaṭakalai Schools of Śrīvaiṣṇavism” 

Josh McKinley has recently completed his master’s degree at the University of Florida. He studied Śrīvaiṣṇavism under the supervision of Dr. Vasudha Narayanan. He hopes to pursue a PhD in the near future in the realm of Hindu studies, with a particular focus on Vaiṣṇavism.”


Venu Mehta (PhD student, University of Florida)

Locating Bhakti in the Gujarati Literary Works on the Jaina Tantric Cult of Padmāvatī

Venu Mehta is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Religion, University of Florida. Her current research is on the Jain religious diaspora in the USA. She completed her second MA in Religious Studies with a special focus on Jainism at Florida International University. She was a Fulbright Fellow (FLTA) at Indiana University, Bloomington in 2010.


Carol Rodriguez (PhD student, University of Florida)

American Jainism: How Tradition is Understood by a New Generation

Carol Rodriguez is a PhD student of Religion at the University of Florida. Her master thesis explores virtue and gender roles as illustrated in Jinaratna-Suri’s Līlāvatīsāra (The Epitome of Queen Līlāvatī), and previous work focused on Jainism and the ethics systems operative in medieval Jain didactic literature. Her current research interests include: the expression of cultural and religious identity through narrative, Sanskrit studies and gender.


Uma Sarmistha (Adjunct Faculty, College of Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida)

Balancing territorial Identities  

Uma Sarmistha is an Adjunct Faculty with the College of Design Construction and Planning.  She is also affiliated with the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies at the University of Florida and a Visiting Faculty at the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), Patna. She is the Principal Investigator of “Are Households Willing to Adopt and Pay for Recycling their Own Waste: A study of Patna city, India,” a project funded by Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.  Dr. Sarmistha is also a co-PI of a Government of India funded project titled, “Violence against women in Rural India”.  She has just published a book Transnational Immigrants: Redefining Identity and Citizenship (Singapore: Springer Nature Pte Ltd. 2019.)


Rodney Sebastian (Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, Manhattan College; PhD, University of Florida, 2019)

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s influence on Manipur from the 18th to 19th century

Rodney Sebastian is an Assistant Professor from the Religious Studies Department at Manhattan College. Besides introductory courses, his teaching focuses on religious traditions in India. He also serves as the coordinator for the Veterans at Ease Program at Manhattan College, which involves assisting student veterans adapt to civilian life and achieve success during their college experience. His current research focuses on the history, religious themes, and structures of Vaishnava performances in the northeast Indian state of Manipur. In his PhD dissertation submitted at the University of Florida, he examined the sociopolitical structures and religious history that produced the Manipuri Rāsalīlā dance dramas.                                                         

Dheepa Sundaram (Assistant Professor, University of Denver (has intellectual connections with some of our work on Global Hindu Traditions and a frequent visitor to Florida)

Globalizing Darśan: Making Virtual, Transnational Hindu Communities

Dr. Dheepa Sundaram is scholar of performance, ritual, and digital culture whose research examines the formation of South Asian virtual religious publics, online platforms, social media, apps, and emerging technologies such as virtual reality. Her monograph project examines how commercial ritual websites fashion a new, digital canon for Hindu religious praxis, effectively “branding” religious identities through a neoliberal “Vedicizing” of virtual spaces. Her recent work explores how WhatsApp and Instagram foster virtual, ethnonationalist, social networks within India, highlighting issues of access/accessibility to religious spaces and the viability and visibility of online counter-narratives, especially those from minoritized/marginalized caste, gender, and class communities.


Steven Vose (Bhagwan Mahavir Assistant Professor of Jain Studies, Florida International University)

The Command of Rituals and the Rituals of Command: Tantra, Mantra and Monastic Hierarchy in a Late Medieval Śvetāmbara Monastic Order

Dr. Vose’s main areas for research and teaching are the religious traditions of South Asia, primarily in Jainism and secondarily in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Islam. He examines the history of interactions within and between these traditions to understand the meaning and contexts of community identity formation, religious authority, and the relationships between religious communities and the state in the medieval and early modern periods. He is the author of several articles and chapters in books.  Dr. Vose’s book, Reimagining Jainism in Islamic India: Jain Intellectual Culture in the Delhi Sultanate will be published by Routledge next year.


Other Participants:

Vasudha Narayanan, Distinguished Professor, Religion (Primary Organizer)

George and Kausalya Hart (Professors Emeriti, University of California, Berkeley; now in South Florida

flyer flyerPROGRAM

The Fourth Suvarna D. Shah Gujarati Poetry Festival

Saturday and Sunday, MARCH 31-APRIL 1, 2018

Saturday, March 31


Chairperson: Dr. Dinesh O. Shah

9:00 am to 9: 15 am Welcome – Dr. Vasudha Narayanan and Dr. Dinesh O. Shah

9:15 am to 10:00 am  Mr. Bhagyesh Jha (Poet Laureate from Ahmedabad, India)

10:00 am to 10:30 am  TEA BREAK      

10:30 am to 10:50 am  Bharat Desai, Chicago

10:50 am to 11:10 am Dhrutika Sanjiv, New Jersey

11:10 am to 11:30 am Dr. Snehlata Pandya, Merritt Island, FL

11:30 am to 11:50 am Sapana Vijapura, Bay Area, CA

11:50 am to 12:10 pm Fulvati M. Shah, Sunnyvale, CA; Ramesh Patel, Karamsad, India                                                          

12:10 PM to 12:30 pm Sushrut K. Pandya, Orlando, FL

12:30 pm to 2:00 pm LUNCH


March 31, afternoon: SHITAL JOSHI SESSION

Chairperson: Dr. Snehlata Pandya

2:00 pm to 2:45 pm Shri Hiten Anandpara, Poet Laureate from Mumbai, India.

2:45 pm to 3:05 pm Manubhai Nayak, Tavares, FL 

3:05 pm to 3:50 pm Rasaswad of my best poems from my 80 years journey! – Dr. Dinesh O. Shah 

3:50 pm to 4:20 pm TEA BREAK      

4:20 pm to 4:40 pm  Rekha Shukla, Chicago, IL

4:40 pm to 5:00 pm Preety Sengupta, New York, NY

6:30 pm to 7:00 pm Social Hour

7:00 pm to 8:00 pm Dinner (Master of Ceremony: Dr. Sumant Pandya)

8:00 pm to 10:00  Honoring Poets, Chief Guests + Kaavya Sangeet + Garba by Shri Karnik Shah from Vadodara, Gujarat, India.


SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2018  

Chairperson: Dr. Digesh Chokshi

9:00 am  to 9:45 am Dr. Bhagyesh Jha  “The message of Bhagwad Geeta for 21st Century in a technologically oriented society”.                                          

9:45 am to 10:25 am Shri Hiten Anandpara, Mumbai, India

10:25 am to 10:55 am TEA BREAK      

10:55 am to 11:15 am Venu Mehta ( Dr. Vasudha Narayanan’s Ph.D. student)

11:15 am to 11;35 am Ravi Naik, Tavares, FL 

11:35 am to 12:30 pm Various Poets:  “My favorite poems of other poets and  Why do I like them? ( Dr.Digesh Chokshi, Dr. Snehlata Pandya,  Rekha Shukla, Bharat Desai, Preety Sengupta, Sapna Vijapura, Dr. Dinesh O. Shah, Sonal Patel)

12:30 am to 12:45 pm Thanks and Future Plans (Dr. Vasudha Narayanan)  

12:45 to 1:45  pm LUNCH AND VIDAY  (Dr. Dinesh O. Shah)

CHiTra Mela 1 Participants
CHiTra Mela I Participants

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra),
The Department of Religion, and the Office of the Vice-President for
Research at the University of Florida present:

CHiTra Mela II

Research and Pedagogy in South Asia and Global Hindu Traditions:

A Symposium for Faculty and Graduate Students in Florida

February 10, 2018 9:00AM-6:30PM

February 11, 2018 9:00AM-12:30PM

216 Anderson Hall, University of Florida


Keynote Speaker:

Professor Philip Lutgendorf

Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies, University of Iowa

Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies and has taught in the University of Iowa’s Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature since 1985. His book on the performance of the Hindi Ramayana, The Life of a Text (1991) won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for research on the popular Hindu deity Hanuman, which appeared as Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey (2007). His interests include epic performance traditions, folklore and popular culture, and mass media. He maintains a website devoted to Hindi popular cinema, a.k.a. “Bollywood” ( His research on the cultural history of “chai” was supported by a Fulbright-Hays Senior Overseas Research Fellowship (2010-11). He is presently translating the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, in seven dual-language volumes, for the Murty Classical Library of India ( He has served, since 2010, as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies (


  • Iqbal Akhtar ( Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Florida International University, Visiting Fellow at Africa Studies Centre and International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden and Professeur Invité at l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (IISMM))
    • “The Tamil Nur Nama (Book of Light)”
  • Kanchana Krishnan Ayyar (Author)
    • “The Challenges in the Genre of Historical Fiction”
  • Muttaki Bin Kamal (Graduate Student, Florida International University)
    • “Differing Functionality and Forms of Shiva”
  • Yudit Kornberg Greenberg (George and Harriet Cornell Endowed Professor of Religion; Director, Jewish Studies Program; Co-Director, Center for India and South Asia, Rollins College)
    • “The formative role of Jewish Indian women in Bollywood and their influence on gender roles in 20th Century India”
  • Sucheta Kanjilal (Assistant Professor of English and Writing, University of Tampa)
    • “The Goddess Trope as Paradox”
  • Gil Ben-Herut (Assistant Professor of South Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida)
    • “Digital Asia: Developing the Connected Bhakti Bibliographies Database”
  • Michael Fiden (Graduate Student, University of South Florida)
    • “Subsuming a Tradition: Māheśvaras in the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi”
  • Dustin Shane (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “Siva in the Ramacaritamanasa”
  • Bhakti Mamtora (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “Vato as a Genre in 19th-century Western India”
  • Josh McKinley (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “Examining the Significance of Natatur Ammal and the Prapanna Parijata”
  • Venu Mehta (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “From Romantic Tale to Religious Tale: Identifying Vāsudeva Hiṇḍī as Historiographic Metafiction; and its Repletion with Jaina Belief”
  • Roland Mullins (Graduate Student, Florida State University)
    • “The Atharvaveda and its Connection to Tantric Vidyā: Reception in Literature and Ritual Manuals”
  • Deepa Nair (Assistant Professor, History, University of Central Florida)
    • “Finding Women’s Voices in Indian Textbooks”
  • Prea Persaud (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “From Kala Pani to Gangadhara: Creating a Hindu Pilgrimage in Trinidad”
  • Madelyn P. Ramachandran (Graduate Student, University of South Florida)
    • “Living Tradition through Pilgrimage: Kedarnath and the Mahabharata in Contemporary India”
  • Priyanka Ramlakhan (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “Hindu Cremation and the Politics of Resistance in Trinidad”
  • Ian Reed (Graduate Student, Florida State University)
    • “Ritual Communities: Religious Co-Participation in Durga Puja and Murharram Celebrations”
  • Rodney Sebastian (Graduate Student, University of Florida)
    • “Mapping the Manipuri rāsalīlā: Theme, Ritual and Structure”
  • Padma Sugavanam (Professional Musician and Independent Scholar (Sanskrit))
    • “Female Narratives in the Musical Compositions of Annamacharya”
  • Steven Vose (Bhagwan Mahavir Assistant Professor of Jain Studies, and Director of the Jain Studies Program, Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University)
    • “A Fifteenth-century Collection of Jain kathās on women’s śīla in Old Gujarati”
  • Albert Kafui Wuaku (Associate Professor, Ethnography and African/African Diaspora Religions, Graduate Program Director, Department of Religious Studies, Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University)
    • “We see ourselves in Veera and Kumkum Bhagya”: Indian Soap Operas in Ghana and Ghanaian Viewers”

CHiTra Mela 1 Picture Gallery

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) is hosting two talks by Professor Francis

Clooney, Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, and Director, Center for the

Study of World Religions, Harvard University.

Thursday, 16 February 2017, 3:30-5:00 pm, at 117, Anderson Hall

A talk for faculty and students is entitled: “Rāmānuja’s Nityagrantham: A Neglected Key to His Theology”

Thursday, February 16, 2017 10:40 am-11:30 am, Pascal’s Coffee House

A talk to the community: “A Comparative Study in Christian and Hindu Theo-poetics”

***Pascal’s Coffee House is located at 112 NW 16th St, Gainesville, FL 32603.

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra),
The Department of Religion, and the Office of the Vice-President for
Research at the University of Florida present:

CHiTra Mela

Research and Pedagogy in South Asia and Global Hindu Traditions:

A Symposium for Faculty and Graduate Students in Florida

January 21, 2017 9:00AM-4:15PM

January 22, 2017 9:00AM-12:00PM

216 Anderson Hall, University of Florida

For more information, see:

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra)

At The University of Florida


A Hindustani Classical Music Concert

ON: Saturday, April 30, 2016, 6:00-8:00 pm

VENUE: MUB 101, University of Florida

(Music Bldg. 435 Newell Drive, next to Century Tower on UF campus)

SITAR: Vidushi MITA NAG                   SAROD: Pandit JOYDEEP GHOSH



Vidushi MITA NAG, daughter of veteran sitar player Pandit Manilal Nag, plays in the style of the Vishnupur Gharana of Bengal, a school of music which is nearly 300 years old. Mita had her musical debut when she was ten years and won the Junior National Talent Search Award of the Govt. of India the same year. Mita has performed all over India, USA, Canada, Japan, and Europe. She was awarded the Junior Fellowship Award by the Human Resource Development, Government of India, for her research project on Vishnupur Gharana. Mita holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.Phil. in English from The University of Kolkata.

Pandit JOYDEEP GHOSH is one of India’s leading musicians and plays the Sarod, Surshringar, and Mohanveena. He learned to play the Sarod under the guidance of the great masters including Sangeetacharya Anil Roychoudhury , Sangeetacharya Radhika Mohan Moitra, and Padmabhushan Acharya Buddhadev Dasgupta of the Shahajahanpur Sarod Gharana (school of music). He has received numerous scholarships and fellowships from the Government of India. His awards include the titles “Surmani” from the Sur Singar Samsad (Mumbai) and “Swarshree” from Swarankur (Mumbai). He is an ‘A’ grade artiste of All India Radio. He has performed in several well-known music festivals in India, USA, UK, Germany, France, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Bahrain, and Bhutan.

Pandit SUBHEN CHATTERJEE learned to play the tabla from his illustrious teacher, Pandit Swapan Chowdhury. While his style of playing follows the Lucknow Gharana, he has also learned the intricacies and beauty of other gharanas. His incorporation of these features from other schools into his playing has made his style quite distinctive. He has accompanied many stalwarts in Hindustani classical music such as Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Pt. Jasraj, Ustad Ashish Khan, and many others. Subhen has also given several solo performances on the tabla. His recent collaboration with Sivamani, another renowned percussionist, has enabled him to form an unique fusion band called FRIENDS OF DRUMS. The main objective of this group is to help the lesser known yet very talented musicians share the stage with renowned ones.

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Co-Sponsored by SPICMACAY-UF and Gainesville Donors

We acknowledge the support of the UF School of Music and Student Government

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) at the University of Florida presents a talk
by Dr. Christopher Chapple
Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology, Loyola Marymount University

Jaina Yoga / Hindu Yoga: Creative Reciprocity

April 1 @ 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm in Anderson Hall room 216

Jainism offered early and explicit theories of karma as well as well delineated instructions on ethics that were incorporated into Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (ca. 200 to 400 C.E.). Nonviolence, adherence to truth, honesty, restraint of the senses, and non-possessiveness were first articulated in the Acaranga Sutra and then incorporated into classical Yoga. Later, the Jaina philosophers Haribhadra, Hemacandra, and Yashovijaya reframed Jaina practice into the eightfold Yoga taught by Patanjali. Additionally, Jaina Tantra, as found in the writings of Subhacandra, reflects the emphasis on liberation and freedom from karma also found in the Yogavasistha. In the 20th century, Acarya Mahaprajna updated these practices in light of modern scientific research on meditation, originating Preksha Dhyana, now taught worldwide. This talk will explore Jaina theories of body, breath, and spirit in light of Yoga traditions past and present.

Christopher Key Chapple is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology and Director of the Master of Arts in Yoga Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He has published twenty books, including Karma and Creativity (1986), Nonviolence to Animals, Earth and Self (!993), Reconciling Yogas (including a translation of Haribhadras’s Array of Views on Yoga, 2003), and Yoga and the Luminous (2008). He has published several edited volumes on religion and ecology, including Hinduism and Ecology (2000), Jainism and Ecology (2002), and Yoga and Ecology (2009). His latest books include a photo-illustrated Yoga Sutra (Sacred Thread, 2015), and two edited volumes: Engaged Emancipation: Mind, Morals, and Make-Believe in the Mokshopaya/Yogavasistha (with Arindam Chakrabarti) and Yoga in Jainism. He also edits the Brill journal Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology and serves on the advisory boards for the International Summer School for Jain Studies (Delhi), the Jaina Centre at the University of London, the Ahimsa Center (Pomona), and the Forum on Religion and Ecology (Yale).

Join us for a talk by Gauri Viswanathan
Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

“Conversion and the Idea of the Secret”
12.00-1.30 pm, Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Keene-Flint Hall 05, University of Florida

Gauri Viswanathan is Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. She has published widely on education, religion, and culture; nineteenth-century British and colonial cultural studies; and the history of modern disciplines. She is the author of Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia, 1989; Oxford, 1998) and Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998), which won the Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association, the James Russell Lowell Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association of America, and the Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. She also edited Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (Vintage, 2001). Prof. Viswanathan is coeditor of the book series South Asia Across the Disciplines, published jointly by the university presses of Columbia, Chicago, and California under a Mellon grant. She has held numerous visiting chairs, among them the Beckman Professorship at Berkeley, and was recently an Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome and a Visiting Mellon Scholar at the University of Cape Town. She has received Guggenheim, NEH, and Mellon fellowships, and was a fellow at various international research institutes. Prof. Viswanathan’s current work is on genealogies of secularism and the writing of alternative religious histories. She has published extensively on the cultural influence of Theosophy, with two recent articles appearing in PMLA. She is a network partner in the international research project “Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism, and the Arts,” funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the U.K.

See a flier for the event HERE and a flier for the Religious Conversions workshop HERE.

Sponsored by
The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra),
The Department of Religion, and
The Center for the Humanities in the Public Sphere (Yavetz Fund)

Presenter Biographies

Gil Ben-Herut is an assistant professor in the Religious Studies Department, University of South Florida, teaching South Asian Religions with a specific concentration on medieval Hinduism. His research interests include pre-modern religious literature in the Kannada language and South Asian devotional traditions. He has published peer-reviewed articles in leading journals and his forthcoming book considers the early Kannada Śivabhakti movement as reflected in early thirteenth-century hagiographies by Hampeya Harihara.

Jonathan Edelmann (D.Phil., Oxford University, 2008) is Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, at the University of Florida, and an affiliated faculty member with the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions. He is an editor for the International Journal of Hindu Studies and author of Hindu Theology and Biology with Oxford University Press, which won a John Templeton Foundation Award, the Dharma Academy of North America Book Prize, and was nominated for the Hindu-Christian Studies Book Award. Edelmann was a fellow with the American Academy of Religion for two years. His research is on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition, and the manner in which Hindu thought might respond constructively to contemporary issues in the philosophy, ecology, and science. He has published in a wide variety of leading academic journals: Journal of the American Academy of ReligionJournal of Consciousness Studies, Zygon: Journal of Science and Religion, Journal of the American Oriental Society.

Kathleen M. Erndl (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin) is Associate Professor of Religion at the Florida State University where she teaches in the field of South Asian religions, especially Hinduism, as well as gender and religion, popular Hindi cinema, and Sanskrit.   Her publications include Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual and Symbol(Oxford), a co-edited collection of essays entitled Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press and Sheffield Academic Press), and articles on Sakta traditions and women. Her most recent publications are on religion in Bollywood film.

Michael Fiden earned both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, specializing in South Asian Religions, from the University of South Florida. During his graduate studies at USF, he worked closely with Dr. Carlos Lopez, studying religion in South Asia using primarily historical and philological methods. Michael has also studied Sanskrit under the tutelage of Dr. Lopez, Dr. Michael Witzel, and more recently Dr. Gil Ben-Herut. Currently, Michael is working with Dr. Ben-Herut to read the Siddhānta Śikhāmaṇi, with particular attention to its place within the historical context of Vīraśaivism. Michael is preparing to apply to doctoral programs for the Fall 2018 semester.

Deepa Nair is an Assistant Professor of South Asian History at the University of Central Florida and specializes in modern and contemporary Indian/South Asian history. She was born and raised in India, and holds a PhD from the National University of Singapore. She will be presenting a short version of her article, ‘The Other Side of Silence—Religion and Conflict in Indian textbooks” published in the edited volume ‘Controversial History Education in Asian Contexts’ by Routledge.

Vasudha Narayanan is Distinguished Professor, Department of Religion, and Director, Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) at the University of Florida. She was educated at the Universities of Madras and Bombay in India, and at Harvard University. She is a past president of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Hindu-Christian Studies. She is the author or editor of seven books and also the associate editor of the six-volume Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. She has written and numerous articles, chapters in books, and encyclopedia entries. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from several organizations including the Centre for Khmer Studies; the American Council of Learned Societies; National Endowment for the Humanities; the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies/ Smithsonian, and the Social Science Research Council. She is currently working on Hindu temples and traditions in Cambodia.

Prea Persaud received a B.A. from Rollins College and her M.A. from Syracuse University.  She is currently a PhD candidate and graduate instructor in the Religion Department at the University of Florida.  She is also an intern at the Digital Library of the Caribbean where she is working to expand the collection on the Indo-Caribbean community. She has presented conference papers on the Indo-Caribbean communities in the U.S., the narrative of indentured labor, and the ways in which Hinduism in the Caribbean can be categorized as a “Creole Religion.” She is interested in global Hinduism, religion in the Caribbean, and issues concerning race, identity, transnationalism, and post-colonialism.

Madelyn P. Ramachandran, Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida. Received a BA in Anthropology and Religious Studies from the University of South Florida. Interests consist of religions of South Asia, women in ascetic communities and the influence women/marginalized groups have on religious and cultural practice.

Priyanka Ramlakhan is currently a second year PhD student in Religion at the University of Florida specializing in Religions of Asia. Her areas of interest include global Hinduism, Indo-Caribbean religions, identity, gender and post-colonialism. She earned her B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Central Florida. She also holds an M.A. in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Florida International University. Her MA thesis explored the power dynamics of the Hindu guru and disciple relationship in a western context. She has presented papers at the SECSOR Annual Regional Meeting (2013, 2014, 2017) and the Annual Conference of South Asia (2013). She serves as the Southeast Region’s Student Director for the American Academy of Religion. She is also the editor of Speaking of Students newsletter published by the American Academy of Religion.

Steven Vose is the Bhagwan Mahavir Assistant Professor of Jain Studies and Religious Studies at FIU. He examines the history of interactions within and between South Asian traditions to understand the meaning and contexts of community identity formation, religious authority, and the relationships between religious communities and the state in the late medieval and early modern periods. Dr. Vose is interested in the intersections of intellectual, social, and political practices; he is also interested in devotional practices such as pilgrimage and temple ritual, as public religious expressions. He also works on the development of vernacular literary traditions, especially in Old Gujarati, and the interaction of Sanskrit, Prakrit and vernacular languages and literatures. Additionally, his work examines architecture, sculpture and manuscript painting practices, especially in western India. More broadly, he is interested in historiography in the study of religion, literary theory and religious reading practices, modern and premodern religious identity politics, and theories of modernity. He brings a focus on the lived reality of religious life to his study of the medieval and early modern Indian past.

Albert Wuaku is originally from Ghana, but now a naturalized American. Holds a PhD in Religious Studies and Anthropology from the Center for the Study of Religions in the University of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada. His MA is from McMaster University in Canada. He also studied Peace Studies at the University of Oslo in Norway. He came to FIU in 2006 as an assistant professor of Religious Studies. Currently he is associate Professor of Ethnography and Religions of Africa and its Diasporas. His research focus is on African agency in the global dispersal of religions. His initial fieldwork was in southern Ghana. He spent 7 months in the towns and villages of southern Ghana investigating Ghanaian Hindu Temples actively operating in these communities, the participation of Ghanaian worshippers in Hindu rituals and their use of Hindu symbols as magico religious resources in a highly globalized Ghana. He has published a number of articles and a book [Hindu Gods in West Africa, 2013] on this topic. He is currently undertaking ethnographic research among Haitian migrants rooting Vodou on Miami’s religious landscape. This project is part of a bigger project on religious practices of recent migrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America in the USA. He teaches a wide-range of postgraduate/undergraduate courses on Religions of Africa and its diaspora [past and present], Religious Ethnography and Sociological and Anthropological approaches to the study of Religions.