Areas of Interest & Expertise
- Religion, Colonialism, Modernity
- Bengali Vaishnavism
- Social & Intellectual History of South Asia
- Religion and New Media in Contemporary India
I am a historian with an abiding interest in Religion. I study religion in myriad ways. My past work has been on modern interpretations of regional bhakti traditions in north and east India, with a focus on the Gaudiya Vaishnava devotional movement. I am the author of Unforgetting Chaitanya: Vaishnavism and Cultures of Devotion in Colonial Bengal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). My current research deals with tracing the intellectual histories of global occult networks and their engagement with a variety of Indian mystical traditions such as bhakti, yoga and tantra. This is a global history project that takes a comparative religious approach informed by postcolonial theories in order to understand Hindu modernity in India in the twentieth century. I am also engaged in a long-term, collaborative research project on social media and religion, where I map the mediating and mediatizing influence of new media technologies on contemporary Hindu religious practices. My most recent publication is called “Shani on the Web: Virality and Vitality in Digital Popular Hinduism,” published in Religions 2020, 11, 456.
I earned my PhD from Columbia University, New York and my Masters and MPhil degrees from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Before joining Azim Premji University, I worked for several years, first at New York University and later the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. When I am not thinking about teaching and research, I enjoy gardening, listening to music, and occasionally cooking. However, my passion is to travel to historical sites and, whenever possible, I try to visit one in the archeologically rich vicinity of Bangalore.
What was pre-colonial India like?
What was pre-colonial India like?
An inquiry into the 'origin' questions of India: geological, ecological, cultural and political.
Varuni Bhatia. (2017). Unforgetting Chaitanya: Vaishnavism and Cultures of Devotion in Colonial Bengal. Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/unforgetting-chaitanya-9780190686246?q=Varuni%20Bhatia&lang=en&cc=in
- Varuni Bhatia. (2020). Shani on the Web: Virality and Vitality in Digital Popular Hinduism. Religions, 11(9), 456. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090456
- Azhagu Meena, Varuni Bhatia, and Joyojeet Pal. (2020). Digital Divine: Technology Use by Indian Spiritual Sects. Proceedings of International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, June 2020. https://doi.org/10.1145/3392561.3394650
- Varuni Bhatia. (2020). The Psychic Chaitanya: Global Occult and Vaishnavism in fin de siècle Bengal. Journal of Hindu Studies. 13,10−29.
- Varuni Bhatia. (2017). Sisir’s Tears: Bhakti and Belonging in Colonial Bengal. International Journal of Hindu Studies, 21(1), 1 – 24.
Invited Journal Articles
Varuni Bhatia. (2014). Finding a Birthplace. Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies (Special Issue on Bhaktivinoda Thakur, 23(1), 157 – 188.
- Varuni Bhatia. (Forthcoming). The Fallen Woman and the Saint: the Baishnabi in Colonial Bengal. In Changing Faces of Society and Culture in Bengal: Remembering Ramakanta Chakrabarty. Ed., Achintya Acharya, Orient BlackSwan.
- Varuni Bhatia. (2020). The Afterlife of an Avatara in Modern Times. In The Legacy of Vaisnavism in Colonial Bengal. Eds., Ferdinando Sardella and Lucian Wong (pp. 17 – 32) . Routledge .
- Varuni Bhatia. (2015). Six Blind Men and the Elephant: The Bhagavata Purana in Colonial Bengal. In Founts of Knowledge: Book History in India, volume III. Eds. Abhijit Gupta and Swapan Chakravorty (pp. 110 – 139) . Orient BlackSwan.
- Varuni Bhatia. (2014). Pranayam Revolution and the Baba: The Strange Case of Baba Ramdev. In Shrapnel Minima: Writings from Humanities Underground. Ed. Prasanta Chakravarty (pp. 170 – 182). Seagull.
- Varuni Bhatia. (2011). Images of Nabadwip: Place, Evidence, Inspiration. In Time, History, and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia. Ed. Anne Murphy (pp. 167 – 185). Routledge.
For more information, please visit my academia.edu page at https://azimpremjiuniversity.academia.edu/VaruniBhatia?from_navbar=true
Also visit this website for more information on my research and teaching: https://sites.google.com/apu.edu.in/historymajor