Historian of religion and law in South and Southeast Asia, using Sanskrit texts and inscriptions in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Old Javanese, and Classical Tamil. I study the formation and spread of Brahmanical ideals and institutions in the ancient and early medieval periods.


BA Columbia, MTS Harvard, PhD Columbia.

Other Publications

See my curriculum vitae or Academia.edu page.


The Authority of the Brahmins
Part I. The Invention of Brahmanical Dharma.
A study of the use of ascetical disciplinary practices to configure Brahmins as religious professionals comparable to Buddhist and Jaina mendicants, equally deserving of veneration and patronage though they “remain in the home”; this model, developed in the centuries spanning the Maurya to Gupta dynasties, provided a framework for promoting ethical and legal norms that became widely influential, and served to confer status and authority.
Part II. The Expanding Orbit of Dharma’s Authority: Appropriations on the Peripheries 
A study of the institutional and political mechanisms by which a Brahmin priestly elite succeeded in translating its religious authority into a vehicle for social, legal, and cultural influence between the 1st c. and the 12th c. CE.
Atharvaśiras: Historical Study, Critical Edition, and Translation.

Critical edition and study of the Baudhāyanagrhyasūtra.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

  • “The Wise Thief and the Brahmin Felon,” paper for a panel on “Sanskrit Jurisprudence and Hermeneutics on How to Solve Legal Controversies,” 26th European Conference on South Asian Studies, University of Vienna, 29 July–1 August 2020.

  • “Javanese Innovations in Indic Legal Science,” paper for the 230th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Boston, 15–18 March 2020.

  • “The Householder Brahmin as a Religious Professional,” invited talk, South Asia Studies Colloquium, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 4 March 2020.

  • “Asymmetries of Status in Civil and Ecclesiastical Polities: Lessons from Religious Exemptions in Ancient India,” paper for a conference on Status and Justice in Law, Religion, and Society, Washington and Lee University, 1–3 November 2019.    (Conference organizer)

  • “Old Javanese Legal Texts and Their Relevance to Epigraphy: Indic Models, Javanese Innovations,” presentation for the kickoff workshop of the DHARMA Project (ERC 809994), Humboldt University, Berlin, 16 September 2019.

  • “The Householder Brahmin as a Religious Professional,” invited lecture, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, Tokyo University, 10 July 2019.

  • Svayambhu, an Old Javanese Paraphrase of Mānavadharmaśāstra, Chapter 8,” paper for the 229th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Chicago, 15–18 March 2019.

  • “From Scholastic Paraphrase to Customary Law Code?  Genres of Javanese Juristic Literature,” invited lecture, École française d’Extrême-Orient, Paris, 11 March 2019.

  • “Vedic Ritual Back-Formations of a Classical Goddess,” paper for the Navarātri Seminar, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Denver, 17–20 November 2018.

  • “What Did the Authors of the Śivadharma and the Viṣṇudharma Mean by the Word Dharma?” paper for a special panel on “The Viṣṇu- and Śivadharma: Early Medieval Lay Religion in a Socio-Religious and Historical Perspective” at the 17th World Sanskrit Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 9–13 July 2018.

  • “Status vs Human Dignity in Ancient and Medieval India,” invited paper for the 2018 Inter­national Conference on Legal Thought and Social Change, “Human Dignity in Asia: Theory and Practice,” Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, 2–5 July 2018.

  • “Religious Exemptions and Religious Pluralism in Early Indian Endowments,” invited lecture, Department of Indology, Kyoto University, 23 June 2018.

  • “Jayanta Bhaṭṭa on Reciting the Atharvaśiras and Feeding Brahmins,” invited lecture, Veda Seminar, Kyoto University, 22 June 2018.

  • “Ritual Expertise as an Intangible Asset in the Political Economy of First-Millennium India,” invited paper for a conference, “Rituals for Power, Rituals for Prosperity” organized by Himanshu Prabha Ray, Humboldt Fellow, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, 23–24 March 2018.


American Oriental Society (director-at-large, 2015–2018), American Academy of Religion, International Association of Sanskrit Studies (regional director for the U.S. and Canada since 2018), Association for Asian Studies, North American Association for the Study of Religion, Pali Text Society

Timothy Lubin

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