Main areas of research
Primary: Chaitanya Vaishnavism and other Vaishnavite Hindu traditions; Vaishnava temple ritual and image theology; Sanskrit Epic and Puranic literature; Bhāgavata Purāṇa; Indic animal and environmental ethics.
Secondary: Indic thought systems (esp. Vedanta and Yoga), ethics; Developments in modern/contemporary Indic religious thought and practice (e.g. the “Dharma Paradigm”); Western representations of Asian culture and religion; Methodology in the study of religion; Hindu-Christian & Hindu-Buddhist dialogue; ‘New Age’ thought and cultures.
Studies pursued and degrees earned
1972 (B.A. course, incomplete; 2 years) in Architecture – University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design.
1996 B.A. (honors) in Religious Studies – University of California, Santa Barbara. (Resumed formal study in autumn 1995)
1998 M.A. (honors) in The Cultural and Historical Study of Religion – Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA.
1999 Tutored informally in Bengali language: University of Halle, Germany.
2000 M.St. (Master of Studies) in The Study of Religion – University of Oxford (UK). (with ‘Distinction’ in two out of the three papers, ‘Christianity’ and ‘Hinduism’).
2004 D.Phil. (Ph.D.) – University of Oxford (UK). Thesis title: “The Grammar and Poetics of Mūrti-sevā: Chaitanya Vaishnava Image Worship as Discourse, Ritual, and Narrative.” Thesis supervisors: Dr. Sanjukta Gupta-Gombrich (Oriental Institute) & Prof. Francis X. Clooney S.J. (Theology Faculty; now Parkman Prof. of Divinity, Harvard University).
2005 Post-doctoral Research Fellowship – Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford University, U.K. (prepared thesis for publication).
Present and former positions held
Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (2006-present). As such, co-director (with Prof. Dr. Ravi M. Gupta), the Bhāgavata Purāṇa Research Project.
Dean of Studies and Instructor, Bhaktivedanta College (Septon, Belgium) (and as such, Associate Lecturer, University of Chester, U.K., Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies) (2002 to present; since September 2012 Dean of Studies).
Fellow, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (2014—) (and Consultant Editor, Journal of Animal Ethics).
Adjunct Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville (2006)
Visiting Scholar / Professor of Culture and Religions of India, Chinese University of Hong Kong (2007-2011, six semesters);
Visiting Scholar, Department of Humanities, University of Pula, Croatia; (three semesters, 2009-2011)
Native language: English;
Reading and speaking fluency in German;
Reading knowledge in Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali.
Academic societies membership
American Academy of Religion (AAR); International Association for Sanskrit Studies (IASS); Society for Hindu-Christian Studies; Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (OCAE)
Other memberships and advisory position
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) – since 1972; entered order of sannyasa in 2014 (with the name Krishna Kshetra Swami).
Research Fellow, Beijing Sanchi Cultural Institute, Beijing (2014—)
Academic Advisor, Sanskrit Department, Beijing Longquan Buddha Temple, Beijing (2017—).
Member, Advisory Board, Hinduism and Ecology Society (based in OCHS) (2019—)
1998 Kṛṣṇa-Sevā: Theology of Image Worship in Gaudiya Vaisnavism – Croatian translation of M.A. thesis, Graduate Theological Union. Zagreb: Govinda. (2008, Spanish translation).
1999 “Reform in Tradition: Bhaktivinoda’s Apologetic for the Bhagavata Purana,” in ISKCON Communications Journal 7/1, June 1999.
2001 “The Hare Krishna Movement.” In The Concise Encyclopedia of Language and Religion. Amsterdam/Oxford: Elsevier.
2002 Book Review: Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta, BBT. In ISKCON Communications Journal 9/1.
2003 “A Tremendous Connection: Reflections on Tamal Krishna Goswami’s Final Visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor.” Journal of Vaisnava Studies, Spring 2003.
2004 “Krishna in Mleccha-desha: ISKCON Temple Worship in Historical Perspective,” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Post-Charismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant, eds. Edwin Bryant and Maria Ekstrand. New York: Columbia University Press.
In the same volume, co-authored with Thomas Herzig: “Re-Visioning ISKCON: Constructive Theologizing for Reform and Renewal.”
2004 “Thinking Across Religious Boundaries, Or, Are Vaishnavas Idolators?” Journal of Vaisnava Studies, Fall 2004.
2004 “Animal ‘Rights’ and Ahimsa: An Ancient Discourse on Humans, Animals, and the Earth.” Nidhan—Journal for the Study of Hinduism, vol. 16. KwaZulu-Natal University, S. Africa: December 2004, pp. 53-69.
2006 Book Review: Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. By Olav Hammer. Brill, 2004. In Religion and Culture (Routledge).
2006 Attending Krishna’s Image: Caitanya Vaishnava Mūrti-sevā as Devotional Truth. Routledge (Routledge Hindu Studies Series, vol. 4). Also, same, in Polish language, 2009: Kult wizerunku Kryszny: Murtisewa w wisznuizmie Cajtanji jako prawda oddania. Wroclaw: Purana. English paperback reprint 2014, Stockholm: Recensia Press.
2008 “The Experience of Authority and the Authority of Experience: the Bhagavad-gita in dialogue with modern ‘religious experience’ discourse.” Beide Journal of Philosophy (Peking University, Beijing, China).
2009 “The Bhāgavata Purāṇa as a Mahābhārata Reflection.” In P. Koskikallio (Ed.), Parallels and Comparisons: Proceedings of the Fourth Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, September 2005 (pp. 257-278). Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2009.
2010 “Nature Deadly and Nature Divine: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s Lessons on Human Relationships to the Environment,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Vol. 18 no. 2, Spring 2010.
2010 “Puja and Darsana.” In The Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism (vol.2; 10,000 words). Amsterdam: E.J. Brill.
2010 “Found in Translation: Revisiting the Bhagavad-gītā in the Twenty-first Century” (review essay). Journal of Hindu Studies vol. 3 no. 2, 2010: 258-269. Oxford University Press.
2011 “Hindu Iconology and Worship.” In Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies. Jessica Frazier, editor. Continuum Press.
2011 (Book Review) Gupta, Ravi M., The Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta of Jīva Gosvāmī: When Knowledge Meets Devotion (Routledge, 2007). In Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 54, no. 1.
2011 (Book Review) Packert, Cynthia, The Art of Loving Krishna: Ornamentation and Devotion. (Indiana University Press, 2010). In Journal of Hindu Studies 0:1-3 (doi:10.1093/jhs/hir029) (September 10, 2011).
2011 “Gaudiya Vaisnavism.” In The Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism (vol. 3; 10,000 words). Amsterdam: E.J. Brill.
2012 (Book Review) Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. South Asian Religions on Display: Religious processions in South Asia and in the diaspora. London and New York: Routledge, 2008. In Journal of Hindu Studies (September 2012).
2012 “Caitanya.” In The Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism (vol. 4; 5,000 words). Amsterdam: E.J. Brill.
2012 “Viewpoint: Reflections on Ludic Dimensions in Hindu-Christian Scholarship.” Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, vol. 25 (2012), pp. 51-54.
2013 The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Sacred Text and Living Tradition. Co-edited, with Ravi M. Gupta. New York: Columbia University Press.
2013 “Trekking Along the Path of the Bhāgavatas.” In The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Sacred Text and Living Tradition. Edited by Ravi M. Gupta and Kenneth R. Valpey. New York: Columbia University Press.
2013 “ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness).”Oxford Bibliographies in “Hinduism”. Ed. Alf Hiltebeital. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399318/obo-9780195399318-0130.xml?rskey=wlgVTr&result=28&q=.
2014 “Circling in on the Subject: Discourses of Ultimacy in Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism.” In Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Philosophy: Tradition, Devotion, and Reason, Ravi M. Gupta, ed., Franham, Surrey, U.K.: Ashgate, pp. 1-34.
2014 (Book Review) Gupta, Bina, An Introduction to Indian Philosophy: Perspectives on Reality, Knowledge, and Freedom. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. In Journal of Hindu Studies.
2014 “The ‘Song of God’ as a Journey of Discipleship: A Reflection on the Bhagavad-gītā and Christian Perspectives.” „Božja pjesma“ kao put učeništva: refleksije o Bhagavad-gīti i kršćanskim gledištima. Klara Buršić-Matijašić (ed.) Tabula, Journal of the Department of Humanities, Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, Pula, Croatia, 2014, pp. 257-263. (Croatian language).
2015 “Imaging Devotional Theologies: Seeing as Expanding the Depth of Believing.” In Sushma K. Bahl, Forms of Devotion: The Spiritual in Indian Art. Vol. 1. New Delhi: Niyogi Books & MOSA. pp. 57-73.
2016 “Vaishnava Tantra As Outlined in the Bhāgavata.” Prabuddha Bharati 121/1, January, pp. 178-190.
2016 “Igniting Hanuman’s Tail: Hindu Indian and secular views on animal experimentation.” Journal of Animal Ethics Vol 6 no. 2, Fall, pp 213-222.
2016 “Precept, Practice, and Persuasion: Truth and heresy in the Visnupurana.” In On the Growth and Composition of the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas: Relationship to Kāvya, Social and Economic Context. Proceedings of the fifth Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, August 2008. Ivan Andrijanić and Sven Sellmer, editors. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
2016 The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Selected Readings. Co-authored, with Ravi Gupta. New York: Columbia University Press.
2017 (Book Review) Voss Roberts, Michelle, Tastes of the Divine: Hindu and Christian Theologies of Emotion. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014. In Journal of Hindu Studies 10/3, November 2017, pp. 360-362.
2019 “Animating Samadhi: Rethinking Animal-Human Relationships Through Yoga.” In The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Animal Ethics. Routledge.
2019 “From Devouring to Honoring: A Vaishnava-Hindu Therapeutic Perspective on Human Culinary Choice.” In Ethical Vegetarianism and Veganism. Routledge.
2019 Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics. Palgrave Macmillan (Animal Ethics book series).
2020 (forthcoming) “In the Service of All that Lives: Gandhi’s Vision of Engaged Nonviolent Animal Care.” In Animal Theologians. Andrew Lindzey, editor.
2020 (forthcoming) “Claiming High Ground: Gauḍīya missionizing rhetoric on the adhikāra of worship.”
1997 “East Meets West in ISKCON: Changes in the Los Angeles Krishna Temple,” at the regional American Academy of Religion conference at Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.
1997 “Some General Features of Image Worship in Vaishnavism” Symposium at Abentheuer, Germany.
2001 “Porous Boundaries and Asymmetries: Doing Reconstructive Theology in ISKCON,” with Tamal Krishna Goswami (Thomas Herzig). At AAR national meeting, Denver.
2004 (12.2.04) “Violence and Peacemaking in Hindu Traditions” at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University, as part of a lecture series, “Relating to the ‘Other’: Hindu and Christian Perspectives,” Presented by the Centre for Hindu Studies & the Centre for Christisanity & Culture. (Presenting and discussing with Revd. Dr. Stephen Finamore).
2004 (8, 10.3.04) “The Semiotics of Food in Hinduism.” Indology Department, Philosophy Faculty, Charles University, Prague.
2004 (14.9.04) “Idea, Image, and Religious Truth: An Experiment in Intra-Religious Comparison.” Work-in-progress report at the British Association for the Study of Religions, Oxford.
2005 (7.9.05) “Dicing and Dancing: Remembrance as Ritual in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana.” At the Fourth Dubrovnik Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, Dubrovnik, Croatia, September 5-10, 2005.
2006 (8.3.06) “And Whom Did You Eat Today? Or, What can Ahimsa-talk Do for an Aching Ecosystem?” At “Exploring Religion, Nature, and Culture,” Inaugural Conference of the Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, University of Florida, Gainesville, April 6-9, 2006.
2006 (13.7.06) “Bodies Monstrous, Bodies Divine: Corporal Transformation and Humor in the Bhāgavatapurāṇa.” At the 13th World Sanskrit Conference, Edinburgh, U.K.
2007 (15.12.07) “The Experience of Authority and the Authority of Experience: the Bhagavad-gītā in dialogue with modern ‘religious experience’ discourse.” At the interdepartmental conference, “Religious Experience and Interreligious Dialogue,” Peking University, Department of Philosophy and Religion.
2008 (15.8.08) “Precept, Practice, and Persuasion: Truth and heresy in the Visnupurana.” At the 5th Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas (Dubrovnik, Croatia).
2013 (7.8.13) “Personhood as Multivalent Reality in Premodern Indian Theography.” At the 12th International Conference on Persons, University of Lund, Sweden.
2014 (21.7.14) “Animating Samādhi: Rethinking Animal-Human Relationships Through Yoga.” Annual Summer School conference: Religion and Animal Protection. Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
2015 (28.3.15) “Claiming High Ground: Gauḍīya missionizing rhetoric on the adhikāra of worship.” Workshop on Modern Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, 28-29 March 2015.
2017 (13.12.17) “Tending Krishna’s Cows: Toward a Devotional Ecological Engagement with Bovinity”. Paper delivered at the Hinduism and Ecology Conference, Govardhan Eco Village, Wardha, Maharashtra, India.
2018 (25.7.18) “Whither Bovinity? Hindu Dharma, the Indian State, and Conflicting Moral Perspectives over Cow Protection.” Paper delivered at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School, “Animal Ethics and Law: Creating Positive Change for Animals.”
2018 (9.8.18) “Cosmopolitan Bovinity: Care for Cows in Indic Memory and Anticipatory Communities.” Paper delivered at (Un)Common Worlds—Human-Animal Studies conference, Türku, Finland.
Lectures and panels
2002 (5.11.02) “Practice Makes Perfect: Serving and Sensing the Divine,” and “Vrindavana, Land of Krishna.” University of Oxford Continuing Education. Day course on “World Religions: Hinduism,” with Prof. Friedhelm Hardy.
2002 (5.16.02) Panel Discussion participant: “Western Categories, Indian Intellectual Traditions.” Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies, Comparative Theology Seminar. Oxford.
2003 (12.2.03) Panel Discussion participant: “Faith and Reason in the Scholarship of Tamal Krishna Goswami.” With Francis X. Clooney. Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies, Wednesday Seminar. Oxford.
2004 (9.7.04) Panel Discussion participant: “The Ethics of Speaking and Listening: An Interfaith Forum on Communication as Spiritual Practice.” At the Parliament for the World’s Religions, Barcelona.
2004 (11.10.04) “Mingling With Modernity: Vaishnava reflections on Scripture, Caste, and ‘Idolatry’.” At the University of Lancaster, Religious Studies Faculty.
2004 (20, 21, 22.12.04) “Stealing Hearts: Hindu Lessons in the Art of Theft;” “Icon, Murti, and Revelation: Toward a Comparison of Christian Icon Veneration and Vaishnava Murti-seva;” “Deception and Destiny in the Mahabharata Dice Games.” At the Indology Department, Philosophy Faculty, and the Husite Theology Faculty, Charles University, Prague.
2005 (28.9.05) “Teacher and Educator: Ancient Indian Perspectives.” At the Centre of Teacher Development (Miejski Osrodek Doskonalenia Nauczycieli), Opole, Poland.
2007 (Hilary Term) “The Mūrti and the Icon: Comparisons in two worlds of divine image.” A four-part seminar at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. With Dr. Matthew Steenberg, University of Oxford Theology Faculty.
2007 (21, 22.3.07) “The Bhāgavata Purāṇa as Mahābhārata Commentary;” “Sacred Biography and the Bhakti Movement in India: The Case of Shri Krishna Chaitanya.” At the Indology Department, Philosophy Faculty, and the Husite Theology Faculty, Charles University, Prague.
2007 ( 30.3.07) “The Bhāgavata Purāṇa as Vedanta Commentary.” Filologie Faculty, University of Wroclaw, Poland.
2007 (11.6.07) “Sacred Biography as a Literary Genre in India.” (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Pula, Croatia).
2007 (25.7.07) “Some philosophical reflections on Mūrti-sevā and Icon veneration.” (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Skopje, Macedonia).
2007 (20.12.07) “The Bhagavad-gītā as brahmanical response to Buddhism.” (College of Buddhism, Foguangshan, Kauhsiunga, Taiwan).
2009 (24.5.09) “Thinking ‘Vedic’: Reflections on Western reception of traditional Indian thought.” Internationales Institut fuer Vedische Studien, Berlin, Germany.
2009 (26.5.09) “Globalization and Eastern Religions.” (University of Lower Silesia, Wroclaw, Poland).
2009 (28.5.09) “The Almighty Protected: Hindu Mūrti Adoration.” (Department of Religion, University of Crakow, Crakow, Poland).
2009 (30.5.09) “Thirty-three Million Gods in Monotheistic Hindu Traditions.” (University of Lower Silesia, Wroclaw, Poland).
2009 (2.6.09) “The Almighty Protected: Hindu Mūrti Adoration.” (Department of Philology, University of Wroclaw, Poland).
2009 (5.6.09) “Human and Divine Childhood in Vaishnava Bhakti Traditions” (student conference, “Children in Asia and the Middle East,” University of Wroclaw, Poland).
2010 (8.1.10) “The Bhāgavata Purāṇa in the 21st Century: Challenges and Prospects.” Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai (Chowpatti).
2010 (7.4.10) “Sylvan Semiotics in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.” (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, Croatia).
2012 (15-17.10.12) “Indian Religious Thought in Transition” (2 lectures), and “The Comparative Study of Religion as a Story within History.” (Department of Religious Studies, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China).
2014 (29.10.14) “Indian Technologies for Self-Discovery.” (General Education program, Shenzhen Polytechnic University, Shenzhen, China).
2014 (6, 7, 10.11.14) “Entering the World of Classical Indian Philosophy: Features of Vedānta.” (Department of Religious Studies, School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China).
2014 (14.11.14) “From Eden to Vraja: Biblical and Vedic Visions of Divine Perfection and Human Imperfection.” (Institute of Christianity and Cross-cultural Studies at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China).
2014 (20.11.14) “From Eden to Vraja: Biblical and Vedic Visions of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.” (Beijing Sanzhi Culture Institute, Beijing, China).
2015 (17.03.15) Keynote Address, 1st Coloquium on the Study of Hinduism and Vaishnavism, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.
2015 & 2016 Several lectures in universities in Beijing, China.
2018 (8-3-18) “Cow Care in Indian Tradition”. Institute of Global Ethnology and Anthropology, Minzu University, Beijing.
2018 (23.7.18) Presentation on Indian animal law issues, in Roundtable Discussion “Reports from Around the Globe.” Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer School conference, “Animal Ethics and Law: Creating Positive Change for Animals,” Oxford, U.K., 22-25 July 2018.
2018 (17.10.18) “Contemporary Hindu Animal Ethics”. Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
2019 Several lectures in China, including Yunnan University (Kunming), Foreign Studies University (Beijing), Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Chinese Conservatory of Music (Beijing), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing), and University of Shandong (Jinan).
2019 (23.5.19) “Mantra, Yoga, Music–Their Meaning in Ancient and Modern India.” Department of Musicology, Chinese Conservatory of Music, Beijing.
2019 (29.5.19) “Grammar and Poetics of ‘Action’ (karma) and ‘Agency’: Highlights from a 3000-year long discourse in Sanskrit.” Department of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.
1972-1995. Conducted numerous (almost daily) classes, lectures, and discussions on Vaishnava Hindu theology and practice within Vaishnava communities throughout Europe, U.S.A., Argentina, India, and China.
1995-2009. Conducted several seminars on image worship in the Chaitanya Vaishnava tradition, given within the Vaishnava communities. Conducted seminars on self-development, based on Hindu and Buddhist principles.
2002. Oxford University Continuing Education. “What is Hinduism,” a one-day presentation with Prof. Friedhelm Hardy.
2003-04 Occasional lecturer for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies’ adult education Certificate courses in Hinduism (in cooperation with University of Wales, Lampeter).
2003 and ongoing. Undergraduate course teaching: “Vaishnava Vedanta,” “Introduction to the Study of Religion,” “Readings from the Vaishnava Acharyas,” and “Caitanya-caritamrita as Vaishnava Sacred Biography,” “Six Classical Indian Philosophies,” and “Sacred Texts: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa” – six modules, at the Bhaktivedanta College, Radhadesh, Chateau du Petit Somme, Belgium (initially in cooperation with University of Wales, Lampeter; thereafter, accredited by the University of Chester, U.K.).
2006. Undergraduate course teaching, “Religions of India” and “Religions of Asia” at University of Florida, Gainesville, as Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Religion.
2007-11 Undergraduate course teaching, “Self and Identity in Indian Religions,” “Tradition and Modernity in India” (x3), “Religions and Cultures of India,” “Sacred Geography in India” (x2), “Love in Indian Culture,” and “Indian Culture Through Biographies,” at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies.
2011 M. A. course teaching, “Hindu Traditions in Dialogue,” at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies.
2009 & 2010 (Spring semester) – Undergraduate course teaching, “Minding the East: The Reception of Asian Thought and Culture in the West,” at University of Pula (Pula, Croatia, EU).
2011 (Spring semester) – Undergraduate course teaching, “Envisioning Truth: Indian Philosophy in the Modern World.” University of Pula (Pula, Croatia, EU).
2016 “Indian Culture Through Biographies,” Summer Session, Universidade Lusiade, Lisbon (Portugal).
Fellowships and honors
1996 University of California, Pell Grant scholarship for undergraduates.
2001 Max Müller Memorial Fund, for doctoral research in India.
2006 Outstanding Faculty Member, Spring Semester, University of Florida, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
2014 Received initiation into the order of Sannyasa in ISKCON (Int. Society for Krishna Consciousness).
Provided unofficial guidance for a number of postgraduate students, helping in focusing their research projects, providing letters of recommendation, and assorted research advice and encouragement.
Peer reviewed two articles for the Journal of Hindu Studies (Oxford University Press), one article for the journal Religion, a book for Routledge, and a book proposal for OUP.