Vasudha Narayanan

104 Anderson Hall
Ph.D. University of Bombay
Hinduism in India & the Diaspora

Vasudha Narayanan is Distinguished Professor, Department of Religion, at the University of Florida and a past President of the American Academy of Religion (2001-2002). She was educated at the Universities of Madras and Bombay in India, and at Harvard University. Her fields of interest are the Hindu traditions in India, Cambodia, and America; visual and expressive cultures in the study of the Hindu traditions; and gender issues. She is currently working on Hindu temples and traditions in Cambodia

She is the author or editor of seven books and numerous articles, chapters in books, and encyclopedia entries. In addition, she is also the associate editor of the five-volume Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from several organizations including the Centre for Khmer Studies (2007); the American Council of Learned Societies (2004-2005); National Endowment for the Humanities (1987, 1989-90, and 1998-99), the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1991-92), the American Institute of Indian Studies/ Smithsonian, and the Social Science Research Council. She was the president of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies from 1996-1998. Dr. Narayanan was named University of Florida’s Teacher Scholar of the Year in 2010.


  • The Life of Hinduism  (co-edited with John Stratton Hawley, 2007)
  • Hinduism (2004, 2009)
  • The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual (1994)
  • The Tamil Veda: Pillan’s Interpretation of the Tiruvaymoli  (co-authored with John Carman, 1989)
  • The Way and the Goal: Expressions of Devotion in the Early Srivaisnava Tradition (1987)

Articles & Chapters:

  • “Royal Darbar and Domestic Kolus: Social Order, Creation, Procreation, and Re-Creation.” In Nine nights of the Goddess: The Navaratri Festival in South Asia.” Ed. Caleb Simmons, Hilary Rodriguez, and Moumita Sen.  Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 2018.
  • “The “monument Visnuite” at the Musee Guimet and the Luminous Pillar.” In Anna L. Dallapiccola and Anila Verghese,India and Southeast Asia: Cultural Discourses. Mumbai: The K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, 2017, 245-278.
  • “Extending Selva J. Raj’s Scholarship to Hindu American Temples: Accommodation, Assimilation, and a Dialogue of Action.”  In Vernacular Catholicism, Vernacular Saints: Selva Raj on “Being Catholic the Tamil Way.” Edited by Reid Locklin, Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 225-242. 2017.
  • “Matters That Matter: Material Religion in Contemporary India,” in Jacobsen, Knut A. Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India, 2015, 329-346.
  • “Hinduism.” (29,082 words) A completely revised chapter for The Concise Introduction to World Religions, edited by Amir Hussain and Roy Amore.  Toronto and NY: Oxford University Press. 2017.
  • “The History of the Academic Study of Religion in Universities, Centers, and Institutes in India.”  (13,038 words)  Numen. Vol. 62, no. 1, 7-39. (2015)
  • “The Hero at Play: Depictions of the Govardhana-Laia story in Khmer art.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Vol. 23, no. 2, 131-147. (2015)
  • “Creating Realities, Communicating Dreams, Constructing Temple Lore: Anklets of the Goddess’s Feet at Thirmeeyachur.”  In Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess: Contemporary Iterations of Hindu Deities on the Move, ed. Sree Padma, Lantham, MD and London, UK: Lexington Books, 121-142. (2014)
  • “Social and Bhakti Hierarchies in Interpreting the life of Tiruppan Alvar.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies Vol 22/ no 2 (Spring 2014), 221-246. (2014)
  • “Who is the Strong-Armed Monkey who Churns the Ocean of Milk?” UDAYA: Journal of Khmer Studies, 11, 3-28  (publication date: Feb. 2014)
  • “Hinduism: Practicing Tradition Today.” In South Asian Religions: Tradition and Today, edited by Karen Pechilis and Selva J. Raj (New York: Routledge), 39-72 (2013)
  • “Rewriting the Hindu Traditions from Global Perspectives.” In Re-imagining South Asian Religions: Essays in Honour of Professors Harold G. Coward and Ronald W. Neufeldt, edited by Pashaura Singh and Michael Hawley. Leiden: Brill Academic, 2012, 66-88 (2012)
  • “Hinduism in America.” The Cambridge History of Religion in America, ed. Stephen Stein. Cambridge University Press (2012)
  • “Hinduism.” Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Edited by Mark Juergensmeyer and Helmut K. Anheier, Sage Publications, volume 2, pp. 793-799 (2012)
  • “’With the earth as a lamp and the sun as the flame…’:  Lighting Devotion in South India.” International Journal of Hindu Studies (Springer Verlag)  vol. 11 no 3, 227-253 (2008)
  • “Shanti: Peace for the Mind, Body, and Soul: Well being, health and healing in the Hindu Traditions.” Teaching Religion and Healing, edited by Linda L. Barnes and Ines M. Talamantes. New York: Oxford University Press, 61-82 (2006)
  • “The Hindu Tradition” in World Religions: Eastern Traditions, ed. by Willard Oxtoby and Roy Amore (2010)
  • “Hindu Attitudes to Genetically Modified Food” in Acceptable Genes: Religious and Cultural Perspectives, edited by Harold Coward and Conrad Brunk (2009)
  • “Weaving Garlands of Tamil Poems” in An Anthology of Krishna-Resources, edited by Edwin Bryant (2007)
  • “Performing Arts, Reforming Rituals,” in Women’s Lives, Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, edited by Tracy Pintchman (2007)
  • “Sacred Land, Sacred Service: Hindu Adaptations to the American Landscape” in A Nation of Religions: The Politics of Pluralism in Multi-religious America, edited by Stephen Prothero (2006)
  • “Heterogenous Spaces and Modernities: Hindu Rituals to Sacralize the American Landscape.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies (Spring 2005)
  • “Sacred land, Common ground, Contested territory: The Healing Mother of Velankanni Basilica and the Infant Jesus Shrine in Bangalore” in Journal of Hindu Christian Studies, Vol.17, (Fall 2004)
  • “Gurus and Goddesses, Deities and Devotees” in The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States, edited by Karen Pechilis (2004)
  • 2002 American Academy of Religion presidential address “Embodied Cosmologies: Sights of Piety, Sites of Power,” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 71/3 (Fall 2003)
  • “‘One Tree is Equal to Ten Sons’: Some Hindu Responses to the Problems of Ecology, Population and Consumption” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 65/2 (June 1997)
  • “Water, Wood, and Wisdom: Ecological Perspectives from the Hindu Traditions.” Daedalus, 130/4 (Fall 2001)
  • “Vaishnava Traditions in Cambodia,” in Festschrift for Dennis Hudson, Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 11/1 (September 2002)

Dr. Narayanan and the University of Florida have created the nation’s first Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra)  to encourage the research, teaching and public understanding of Hindu culture and traditions.  Click here to read the University of Florida News article about CHiTra.