Hamsa Stainton

Academic title(s): 

Assistant Professor of South Asian Religions (Hinduism)

Hamsa Stainton
Contact Information
Address: 

3520 University Street, Room 307
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2A7, Canada

Phone: 
514-398-3962
Fax number: 
514-398-6665
Email address: 
hamsa.stainton [at] mcgill.ca
Degree(s): 

B.A. (Cornell)
M.T.S. (Harvard Divinity School)
M.Phil. (Columbia University)
Ph.D. (Columbia University)

Specialization: 

South Asian religions; Hinduism; Sanskrit language and literature; Indian aesthetics; Kashmir; Shaivism and Tantric traditions; the Mahabharata and Ramayana; the history of yoga; bhakti traditions.

Biography: 

Hamsa Stainton is an Assistant 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 traveling 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.”

Courses: 
  • RELG 252 Hinduism & Buddhism 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 254 Intro to Yoga Traditions 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 350 Bhakti Hinduism 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 372 Hindu Goddesses 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 545 Ramayana: Multiple Lives 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 547 Special Topics in Hinduism 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 558 Indian Tantric Traditions 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 665 Primary Text: Sanskrit 1 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

  • RELG 666 Primary Text: Sanskrit 2 3 Credits
      Offered in the:
    • Fall
    • Winter
    • Summer

Selected publications: 

 

"Wretched and Blessed: Emotional Praise in a Sanskrit Hymn from Kashmir." In Emotions in Classical Indian Thought, edited by Maria Heim, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, and Roy Tzohar. Bloomsbury Research Handbooks in Asian Philosophy Series. New York: Bloomsbury, forthcoming.

Poetry as Prayer in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir. Religion in Translation Series of the American Academy of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/poetry-as-prayer-in-the-sanskrit-hymns-of-kashmir-9780190889814?cc=us&lang=en&).

Tantrapuṣpāñjali: Tantric Traditions and Philosophy of Kashmir; Studies in Memory of Pandit H.N. Chakravarty, co-edited with Bettina Sharada Bäumer. Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2018.

"Poetry and Kṣemarāja’s Hermeneutics of Non-dualism." In Tantrapuṣpāñjali: Tantric Traditions and Philosophy of Kashmir; Studies in Memory of Pandit H.N. Chakravarty, edited by Hamsa Stainton and Bettina Sharada Bäumer, 339-368. Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2018.

"Poetry as Prayer: The Śaiva Hymns of Jagaddhara of Kashmir." Vol. ed. by Jonathan Edelmann. International Journal of Hindu Studies 20.3 (2016): 339-354.

"Book Review: Ratnakaṇṭhas Stotras: Sūryastutirahasya, Ratnaśataka und Śambhukṛpāmanoharastava, J. Hanneder, S. Jager, A. Sanderson.” In Indo-Iranian Journal (Brill) 59.4 (2016): 365-370.

“Book Review: Ithamar Theodor, Exploring the Bhagavad Gītā: Philosophy, Structure and Meaning (Ashgate, 2010).” In Philosophy East and West 64, no. 3 (July 2014): 807-812.

“Trika.” In The Encyclopedia of Indian Religions: Hinduism, ed. by Rita Sherma. Springer, forthcoming.

“Somānanda.” In The Encyclopedia of Indian Religions: Hinduism, ed. by Rita Sherma. Springer, forthcoming.

Graduate supervision: 

Ali Smears, M.A. (thesis), "Mobilizing Shakti: Hindu Goddesses and Campaigns Against Gender-based Violence", (2018).

Conferences: 

Selected conference presentations and invited lectures:

“Navigating an Ocean of Hymns: Problems and Possibilities for the Study of Sanskrit Stotras,” South Asian Religions Colloquium, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, February 2020.

“So Close Yet So Far: Devotion, Humility, and Non-duality in Śaiva Hymns from Kashmir,” Colloquium on “The Other in South Asian Traditions: Divine Others, Religious Others, Cultural Others,” University of Montreal, December 2019.

“Beyond Poetry: The Poetics and Devotionalism of Maṅkha’s Śrīkaṇṭhacarita,” Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI, October 2019.

“Devotion to the Guru and the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir,” Translating Devotion: Poetry from Kashmir and Tibet Workshop, School of Religious Studies, McGill University, September 2019.

A Necklace of Praise to the Guru – Translation workshop on the Gurustutiratnāvalī,” Translating Devotion: Poetry from Kashmir and Tibet Workshop, School of Religious Studies, McGill University, September 2019.

Stotras and the Bhakti Movement,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, November 2018.

“Kashmir Studies: Progress, Desiderata, and Collaborative Ways Forward,” Kashmir Pre-47 Roundtable Discussion, Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI, October 2018.

“Praise, Poetry, and Pathos in Sanskrit Hymns,” Workshop on Emotions in Classical Indian Thought, Amherst College, September 2018.

“Metapoetic Poetry from Kashmir: Maṅkha’s Śrīkaṇṭhacarita and Jagaddhara Bhaṭṭa’s Stutikusumāñjali,” 17th World Sanskrit Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, July 2018.

“Poetry as Prayer: Rethinking Love and Devotion in Sanskrit Literature,” College of William and Mary, March 2018.

“Building on Strengths: Development, Conversation, and Connection in the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute,” Muktabodha Indological Research Institute Scholars Conference, Manhattan, NY, April 2016.

“Beyond Death and Decay: Literary Innovation in the Sanskrit Hymns of Kashmir,” Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI, October 2016.

“Devotional Poetry and the Poetics of Devotion: On the History of Bhaktirasa in Kashmir,” American Oriental Society Annual Meeting, Boston, March 2016.

“Rebooting Hindu Hymns,” South Asian Studies Seminar Series, University of Iowa, Iowa City. September 2015.

“Aesthetics and Religious Experience in the Non-dual Hymns of Kashmir,” Religion in South Asia Conference, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, March 2015.

“Poetry as Prasāda: Sanskrit Stotras and the Nature of Bhakti,” Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Philadelphia, March 2014.

“The Courtship of Śiva and Sarasvatī in the Poetry of Jagaddhara of Kashmir,” 15th World Sanskrit Conference in Delhi, India, January 2012.

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