ACADEMIC CV

 
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Drawing from formal training in English, History, Philosophy, and Religion,
I decode archetypal stories for insight on how humans work.

I work with ancient mythology and modern Sci-Fi Fantasy, e.g.
Star Wars and Game of Thrones.  

My 2019 academic book “The Goddess and The King in Indian Myth” decodes the mythology of the
Indian Great Goddess, available HERE.

 


EDUCATION
 

2015     Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of Calgary. Thesis: “Mother of Power, Mother of Kings: Reading Royal Ideology in the Devī Māhātmya.” Supervisor: E. Rohlman. Examiner: G. Bailey (La Trobe University).

2012     Academic Year Sanskrit Language Program,  American Institute of Indian Studies, Pune, India

2010    MA, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Department of South Asian Studies Collaborative Program. Thesis: “Violence and Nonviolence in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa: The Dance of War and Peace.” Supervisor: Ajay K. Rao.

2007    Honours, BA (With Distinction), University of Toronto. Major: Comparative Religion; Minors: English, History, South Asian Studies.


PUBLICATIONS

BOOKS

2019    Balkaran, Raj. The Goddess and The King in Indian Myth: Ring Composition, Royal Power, and The Dharmic Double Helix. Routledge Hindu Studies Series, Ed. Gavin Flood. 

2020    The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth: Surya in the Markandeya Purana.
Under Contract.

2021    Mapping Markandeya: Synchronic Strategies for Engaging Ancient Indian Myth
Research Phase.


BOOK CHAPTERS


2019    Balkaran, Raj. “A Tale of Two Boons.” Excerpts from the Devī Māhātmya translated for The Purana Reader, edited by Dheepa Sundaram and Deven Patel. Cognella Academic Publishing. In press. 

2019    Balkaran, Raj. “The Story of Saṃjñā, Mother of Manu” In Gender and Indian Philosophy, edited by Veena R. Howard. Bloomsbury Publishing.

2018     Balkaran, Raj. “The Splendour of The Sun” In Nine Nights of the Goddess, edited by Hillary Rodrigues, Moumita Sen and Caleb Simmons. State University of New York Press, pp. 23-38. 

2018     Balkaran, Raj. “The Safeguard of Sovereignty.” In Papers from the 16th World Sanskrit Conference Proceedings. Delhi: DK Publishers, p. 67-95.


JOURNAL ARTICLES

2019 Balkaran, Raj. “Birdcalls Across Itihāsa: How the Birds of the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa Answer and Epic Riddle.” Manuscript under review.

2019 Balkaran, Raj. “Visions and Revisions of the Hindu Goddess: Sound, Structure, and Artful Ambivalence in the Devi Mahatmya.” Religions 10(5), 392. Special Edition: “On Violence: Voices and Visions from Hindu Goddess Traditions,” edited by Patricia Dold.

2018    Balkaran, Raj. “The Sarus’ Sorrow: Voicing Nonviolence in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.” In Journal of Vaishnava Studies 26.2: 143-161. 

2017     Balkaran, Raj. “Joseph’s Journey: Uncovering Israel’s Unconscious.” In Journal of Genius and Eminence 2.2: 96-104, Special Volume: “The Hero’s Journey: A Tribute to Joseph Campbell and his 30th Anniversary of Death.” 

2017     Balkaran, Raj. The Essence of Avatāra: Probing Preservation in The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa.” In Journal of Vaishnava Studies 26.1: 25. 

2012    Balkaran, Raj and Walter Dorn. “Violence in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa: Just War Criteria Prefigured in an Ancient Indian Epic.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.3: 1-32. 

2010    Dorn, A.W., R. Balkaran, S. Feldman, and S. Gucciardi. “The Justifications for War and Peace in World Religions. Part II: Religions of Indic Origin (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism)”. Journal of Defense Research and Development Canada 2010.034: 172. 


PEDAGOGY PIECE

2018     Balkaran, Raj, Ed. “Teaching Tales: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in the Hindu Studies Classroom and Beyond.” Special Issue of the “Spotlight on Teaching” column of the American Academy of Religion’s online magazine, Religious Studies News.


CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS


2018    Parliament of The World’s Religions (Toronto, Canada).
2018    Madison Conference on South Asia (Madison, WI).
2018    International Association for Cognitive Semiotics Conference (Toronto, Canada).
2018    17th World Sanskrit Conference (Vancouver, Canada). 
2017    American Academy of Religion (Boston, MA). 
2016   American Academy of Religion (San Antonio, TX).
2016    Annual Conference on South Asia (Madison, WI).
2015    Annual Conference on South Asia (Madison, WI).
2015   IKOS Conference (Paris, France).
2015   15th  World Sanskrit Conference (Bangkok, Thailand).
2014   American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (Calgary, Canada).
2013   American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (Seattle, Washington, USA).
2012   American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (Portland, Oregon, USA).
2009  International School for Jain Studies Research Colloquium (Delhi, India).


TEACHING

UNIVERSITY TEACHING EXPERIENCE

2010-  University of Toronto: Course Instructor, School of Continuing Studies
2017    Ryerson University
2014    University of Calgary

COMMUNITY TEACHING EXPERIENCE

2017   Storytelling Toronto
2016   Power of Myth (Online Academy)
2011    Wonderworks (Toronto)
2010. Renaissance Academy (Toronto)


PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT 


YOUTUBE
2019-   Raj Balkaran Channel         

PODCAST HOSTING
2018-   New Books Network (Hindu Studies Channel)
2017 The Power of Myth Podcast (100+episodes)          

INTERVIEWS GIVEN
2019    “The Goddess and The King.” Podcast Interview: New Books Network, April 17. 
2018    “When Storytelling Becomes a Pedagogical Tool.” Online Newspaper Interview: The Wire, July 7. 
2018    "Lead with the Destination, Not the Engine.” Podcast Interview: Erraticus, April 17.       
2017    “The Masks we Wear.” Leslie Feist Podcast, July 6.
2017    “Millennial Messenger.” Podcast Interview: VUSAC , Spring Semester.
2016    “The Mythology of Mars.” Radio Interview: CBC Ideas “Generation Mars”, June 7.
2015    “Yoga Then and Now.” Video Interview: The Nikki Clarke Show, Nov 3.
2014    “Ancient Myth and Modern Life.” Radio Interview: RED FM “Good Morning Calgary”, January 28.
2011    “Sacred Storytelling.” Blog Interview: Shivers Up The Spine, Aug 18.
2011    “Tales of India.”  Video Interview: Toronto Body Mind, Jul 27.
2011    “Raj Yoga.” Newspaper Interview: The Lethbridge Journal (Vol. 4, Issue No. 5.), Mar 3.