Arun Brahmbhatt (arun.brahmbhatt @ mail.utoronto.ca) joined the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for South Asian Studies as a doctoral student in 2008, after receiving a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion and English from Tufts University.
Arun’s project, tentatively titled, “Scholastic Subjectivities: Sanskrit Textual Practices in Gujarat, 1830-1950,” will examine how certain textual practices – including the production, dissemination, and reception of religious texts – were constitutive of unique religious identities in Gujarat during the late colonial period and the transition to independence. These themes will be explored through a case study of Sanskrit commentaries on the Vedānta scriptural canon produced in the Swaminarayan sampradāya, an influential Gujarati devotional community.
The project entails a detailed analysis of the hermeneutical strategies used to present theology and metaphysics in these texts alongside a careful historical contextualization of this genre within the larger body of both Swaminarayan and Gujarati religious texts. Arun is interested in exploring sectarian/community formation, the manner in which regional religious movements negotiate interregional publics, the development of a Sanskrit print culture, Neo-Vedānta and Neo-Hinduism, and indigenous notions of modernity.