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Deepak Sarma
Dr. Deepak Sarma, professor of South Asian religions and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University, is the author of "Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader" (2011), "Hinduism: A Reader" (2008), "Epistemologies and the Limitations of Philosophical Inquiry: Doctrine in Madhva Vedanta" (2005) and "An Introduction to Madhva Vedanta" (2003). He was a guest curator of Indian Kalighat Paintings, an exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He is a Curatorial Consultant for the Department of Asian Art of the Cleveland Museum of Art. After earning a BA in religion from Reed College, Sarma attended the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he received a PhD in the philosophy of religions. His current reflections concern cultural theory, racism, and post-colonialism.

Entries by Deepak Sarma

You Know It's Gonna Get Stranger, Let's Get on With the Show! Experiencing the Grateful Dead Experience

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2015 | 10:11 AM

I wait with excited and eager anticipation to enjoy the final fare-thee-well festivities in Soldier Field, the final run of the Grateful Dead. A great deal has been said already about the quality of the shows in Santa Clara and the imminent ones in Chicago. While some of the close...

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Race Matters in the Classroom

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 10:48 AM

All taxonomies are humanly constructed. Taxonomies concerning "race" are especially contrived and infuriating, and especially germane. Of these constructions, "Religion(s)" and "Theology" are among the most notorious. Their birth was certainly neither miraculous, virginal, nor evidence of divinely ordained parthenogenesis, nor even evidence or products of an emergent...

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Wendy and Woody: Generational and Geographic Joking and Jesting

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 1:44 PM

When training to be a professor of religious studies, many of my mentors, editors, and teachers reminded me that, whether I were writing an essay or a book, and most especially giving a talk, knowing the audience was essential. Simply stated, the right essay (book/talk) for the wrong audience spells...

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The Academic Study of Hinduism: An Alternative Future

(8) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 2:28 PM

While censorship of any kind is problematic, it is also nothing new to religious communities or even to communities that aspire to be secular democracies, such as the United States.

The Catholic Church, for example, instituted an Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) until it was abolished in...

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The Naked Truth About India

(1) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 1:19 PM

While I am not credentialed to comment on the appropriateness of the strip and cavity search of India's deputy consul general in New York, I can comment upon the ambiguity and confusion in the collective "Indian" imagination about nudity and sexuality.

While the juxtaposition of opposing concepts...

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Diwali: Garlanding the Light of Diversity

(1) Comments | Posted October 25, 2013 | 11:51 AM


When my parents first came to the United States in 1968, the population of immigrant Indians was very small indeed. In my father's recollection, there were only three Indian immigrant families at the NIH and each came from different states in India and spoke very different languages. Despite...

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Hindu Art or Hindu Artifact? Museums and (Objectifying?) Hindu Objects

(8) Comments | Posted October 3, 2013 | 9:23 AM

Another good question concerns the treatment, handling, and contextualization of Hindu objects in museums. Should they be there? Should they be "repatriated" if they were obtained illegally? Are they art? In whose eyes are they considered art? Or are they artifacts?

In recent times, questions have been raised about the...

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Dying to Be on a Yatra/Pilgrimage?

(1) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 6:38 PM

Yet another good question that Hindus ought to ask concerns the auspiciousness of dying while on a pilgrimage (yatra). Is it possible to die a "good death" when one is on, or returning from a pilgrimage? Is it possible to die a "good death" when one is a migrant or...

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What Makes a University Great? Audacious Irreverence, That's What!

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 10:46 AM

1. What Makes a University Great?
It is very easy to give banal or trite answers -that a so-called "Great University" provides an environment where "people can grow," or can be "exposed to other cultures," or, "can live up to her or his greatest potential." Instead of offering such...

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Yoga and Pornography: The Problem of Definition

(69) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 5:00 PM

Just as "pornography" is hard to define, so too is "yoga."

Some prefer to think of yoga as simply an exercise composed of challenging physical poses. It is far more than that if one considers its origins and the original contexts within which it was practiced and developed (see...

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Mimicry? Mockery? Mimic. Cry.

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 4:32 PM

In one of my earlier (and mollifying?) blog posts (White Hindu Converts: Mimicry Or Mockery?) I addressed the sincerity and post-colonial complexities of white Hindu converts whose actions could be perceived as mimicry morphing to mockery. Though the article did concern these converts, careful readers noted that the...

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Who Owns Hinduism?

(35) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 11:50 AM

Another good question to ask concerns the propriety of appropriating or merely utilizing purportedly proprietary Hindu symbols, practices, clothing, images and so on.

The question -- basically, "Who owns Hinduism?" -- revolves around a number of separate, but related questions: First, who speaks on behalf of, or represents the...

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Being Brown After the Boston Bomb Blast

(3) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 10:34 AM

The bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon are a terrible tragedy and a chilling example of the worst kinds of psychopathic and misanthropic human behavior. I weep for the families and friends for those immediately affected and for those whose lives and memories have forever changed.

I hope that they...

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Delhi Gang Rape: The Karma of Suffering and the Suffering of the Righteous

(112) Comments | Posted January 10, 2013 | 1:20 PM

A challenging question that many religious leaders and religious people often struggle to answer concerns the existence of suffering in the world. Whether this suffering is human or non-human, religions strive to provide answers for why such suffering occurs in the first place. If authoritative and authorized texts or spokespeople...

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The Hindu Santa 'Clause'

(11) Comments | Posted December 12, 2012 | 2:37 PM

That festive "Holiday" season is again upon us. As I've mentioned in an earlier HuffPost blog, "Diaspora Hinduism and the December Dilemma," the season is a challenging one for members of the Hindu Diaspora.

Diaspora Hindus often reflect upon the degree to which they and their children...

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Is Nothing Sacred?

(16) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 1:11 PM

A good question to ask is whether there are some religious beliefs and practices that are off limits to any analysis whatsoever.

Though many have held, and continue to hold, this position, Mircea Eliade, a Romanian historian of religion who taught at the Divinity School of the...

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Thanks, but No Thanks: Things This Indian-American From Cleveland Is NOT Thankful for This Thanksgiving Day

(2) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 4:47 PM

While I am indeed thankful for some things this Thanksgiving Day, such as my family, my job, and so on, there are things that this Indian-American from Cleveland is NOT thankful for.

1. That one element of this national and quasi-religious celebration is the slaughter and exploitation of the indigenous...

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White Hindu Converts: Mimicry Or Mockery?

(242) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 1:20 PM

It is ironic that, while so many Diasporic Hindus mimic imaginary archetypes of "white" American culture in order to assimilate, to deny their colonized and oppressed histories, to (futilely) self-blanch, and to be accepted by the dominant white Christian privileged culture, a select group of white Americans do the opposite....

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Affirmative Action And The 'Critical Mass' Of Diversity In Religious Studies Departments

(9) Comments | Posted November 1, 2012 | 3:58 PM

The United States Supreme Court is currently deliberating Fisher v. University of Texas. This case revisits decisions made in Grutter v. Bollinger, allowing university admissions officers to consider race and ethnicity when admitting students. The goal of these affirmative action practices was to achieve a "critical mass of diversity," which,...

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Is Sanskrit (In)dispensable for Hindu Liturgy?

(47) Comments | Posted October 12, 2012 | 2:39 PM

Another good question that Hindus, especially North American diasporic Hindus, ought to ask themselves concerns the indispensability of Sanskrit for Hindu ritual and prayers, basically for Hindu liturgy. Though it is true that vernacular languages have played a significant role in regional and devotion forms of Hinduism, the version that...

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