Illuminated Hindu Deities at McGill

When and Where

Thursday, October 06, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm


Hamsa Stainton, Religious Studies, McGill


 A lunchtime introduction to the illuminated Indic manuscripts of McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections. "Illuminated Deities: Hindu Gods and Goddesses and Devotional Texts in McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections" focuses on the relationship between the images of Hindu deities and the devotional texts with which they are paired. The presentation will include interactive examinations of multiple manuscripts and a detailed look at one extraordinary codex of over a thousand pages and 47 full-page images. This particular manuscript comes from Kashmir and includes famous texts like the Bhagavadgītā as well as many Tantric texts and deities. 

This event will be live-streamed for remote attendance, and we will be happy to host a limited number of in-person attendees.

Hamsa Stainton is an Associate Professor in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. He completed graduate work at Columbia University (Ph.D.) and Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S.), and he previously taught at the University of Kansas. He specializes in South Asian religions, particularly Hinduism, and has spent many years studying and travelling in South Asia. He teaches classes on a variety of topics related to the history and diversity of South Asian religions, including courses on the history of yoga, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, bhakti and Tantric traditions, and Hindu goddesses. His recent research and publications focus on the religious and literary history of Kashmir, and specifically the genre of Sanskrit devotional poetry known as the stotra (hymn of praise). His recent monograph, Poetry as Prayer in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2019), charts the trajectory of this genre in Kashmir from the eighth century to the present. He has also published a volume on Hindu Tantra, co-edited with Dr. Bettina Bäumer, called Tantrapuṣpāñjali: Tantric Traditions and Philosophy of Kashmir; Studies in Memory of Pandit H.N. Chakravarty. His current research, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, is called “Navigating the Ocean of Hymns: Popular Sanskrit and the Historiography of Hinduism.”

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