AboutI am a specialist in Bengali Shakta traditions, and particularly intrigued by how political authority, canonical works of literature, and esotericism mediate differences between or within religions. My current book project, Raja Krishnacandra: Hindu Kingship and Myth-Making in Early Modern Bengal, explores how an eighteenth century Bengali raja named Krishnacandra Ray — famed throughout the region as a patron of Sanskrit scholarship, a champion of tantric goddess worship, and the alleged architect of British colonialism in India — passed into myth, and what that process suggests about the formation of regional and sectarian identities. Other interests at the moment include sacrifice, ritual magic, literary exegesis, and Hindu-Buddhist interactions.
EducationColumbia University: Ph.d. (Religion, 2015); M.Phil. (Religion, 2008); M.A. (Religion, 2005)
Georgia State University: B.A. (Religious Studies, 2003)
“Back When We Were Brahmins: Historical and Caste Critique Among Bengali Naths” in The Power of the Nath Yogis: Yogic Charisma, Political Influence and Social Authority
, edited by Daniela Bevilacqua and Eloisa Stuparich. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. (Forthcoming)
“রাজা কৃষ্ণচন্দ্র ও ১৮ শতকে বাঙালি বুদ্ধিজীবিদের ইতিহাস” (“Raja Krishnacandra and the History of Bengali Intellectuals in the Eighteenth Century”). Aksharekha
“Politics and Power (A Case Study from Bengal)” in A Cultural History of Hinduism in the Age of Empires (1500-1857)
, edited by Valerie Stoker. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. (Forthcoming)
“West Bengal.”The Database of Religious History
, Vancouver: University of British Columbia. (2020)
“Blood in the Mainstream: Kālī Pūjā and Tantric Orthodoxy in Early Modern Bengal.” International Journal of Hindu Studies vol. 23, #2
(August 2019). https://rdcu.be/bHrDI
“The Dark Knight of the Soul: Death as Initiatory Ordeal in Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P.” in The Assimilation of Yogic Religions Through Pop Culture
, edited by Paul Hackett. Lanham: Lexington Books. (2017)
ProjectsRaja Krishnacandra: Hindu Kingship and Myth-Making in Early Modern Bengal. (Book manuscript in progress)
Upcoming Talks and Conferences
“This Charming Mantra: Language Choice and Style in Bengali Tantric Chapbooks.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. San Antonio, November 2021.
“Distinctive Features of Buddhist Tantra.” Union Theological Seminary. New York, March 2020.
“The Song Remains the Same? 2000+ Years of Interpreting the Bhagavad Gita.” Hunter College. New York, February 2020.
“Some Strategies for Translating Bengali Onomatopoeia.” Translation Across Time and Space. Indiana University India Office Gateway. New Delhi, January 2020.
“Crossover Appeal: Exoticism and Localization of the Goddess Tara in Hindu Sources.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. San Diego, November 2019.
“The Continuing Story of Buddha and The Beast: Vajrayana and Comparative Religion in Contemporary Thelema.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. San Diego, November 2019.
“পশ্চিমদেশীয় পেগানিস্ম আর ভারতের ধর্মীয় ঐতিহ্যদের কত মিল?” (“How Similar Are Indian Religious Traditions and Western Paganism?”). Public talk sponsored by Mudra Prakasana. Krishnanagar, October 2019.
“Gopal Holeo Shotti: Historical Reflections Through the Lens of Gopal Bhar.” Presidency College. Kolkata, October 2019.
MembershipsAmerican Academy of Religion
American Institute of Bangladesh Studies
Association for Asian Studies
Society for Tantric Studies