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.
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.
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.
2021 Mapping Markandeya: Synchronic Strategies for Engaging Ancient Indian Myth
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 The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender, edited by Veena R. Howard. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 267-296
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.
2019 Balkaran, Raj. “Avian Artistry: How Birds of the Markandeya Purana 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.
2019 Balkaran, Raj and McComas Taylor, Eds. Purāṇic Studies: Proceedings of the Purāṇa Section of the 17th World Sanskrit Conference (Vancouver, 2018). University of British Columbia.
2018 Balkaran, Raj and McComas Taylor, Eds. Purāṇa Studies: Select Papers from the 16th World Sanskrit Conference (Bangkok, 2015). DK Publishers, Delhi.
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.
2019 “Teaching Hinduism: Frame Narratives, the Goddess, and The Dharmic Double Helix.” Panel: “Moving Beyond ‘Hinduism’ – But How?”. Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions, Tartu (Estonia), June 28.
2018 “The Dignity of the Feminine in Ancient Indian Myth.” Parliament of The World’s Religions, Toronto, Nov 2.
2018 “Commodifying the Feminine: An Ancient Indian Cautionary Tale.” Parliament of The World’s Religions, Toronto, Nov 5.
2018 “Suffering and Sovereignty: Decoding Dharma’s Double-Helix in The Parallel Frames of the Devī Māhātmya and the Bhagavad Gītā.” (Dept. of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Oct 12.
2018 “How the Goddess Makes Meaning: Uncovering Chiasmus in Ancient Indian Myth.” International Association for Cognitive Semiotics Conference, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada). July 15.
2018 “Birdcalls across Itihāsa: How Birds in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa answer an Epic Riddle.” World Sanskrit Conference (Vancouver, Canada), July 12.
2017 “How the Goddess Teaches Hinduism: Decoding Divergent Boons.”
American Academy of Religion Annual Conference (Boston, MA), Nov 18-21.
2016 “The Sound of the Sarus: Cultural Reverberations in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.”
American Academy of Religion Annual Conference (San Antonio, TX), Nov 20.
2016 “The Makings of Māhātmya: The Greatness of Sūrya in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa” Annual Conference on South Asia (Dept. of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Oct 23.
2015 “The Making of a Manu: Unpacking the Interplay between Devī Māhātmya and Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa.” Annual Conference on South Asia (Dept. of South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Oct 22-25.
2015 “The Splendour of the Sun: Illumining the Passage between Devī Māhātmya and Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa.” IKOS Conference (FSHS, Paris) Aug 20.
2015 “The Safeguard of Sovereignty: Focusing the Frame of the Devī Māhātmya.” World Sanskrit Conference (Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand), June.
2014 “Framing the Goddess: Telling Tales with Telling Subtales from the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa.” American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada), May 11.
2014 “Gandhi, the Goddess, and India's Ascetic-King: In Response to Veena R. Howard's Gandhi's Ascetic Activism.” American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada), May 11.
2013 “The Merchant, The Margins, and the Measure of Mokṣa: Defending Royal Power in the Devī Māhātmya.” American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (Seattle University, Seattle, Washington, USA), May 4.
2012 “Kings in Exile: The ‘Cutting Edge’ of Peripheral Violence.” American Academy of Religion PNW Regional Conference (Concordia University, Portland, Oregon, USA), May 10.
2009 “Just Warfare in Jainism.” ISSJS Research Colloquium (International School for Jain Studies, Delhi, India), July 11.
Peer-Reviewed Graduate Student Conference Presentations
2013 “Power, Periphery and the Greatness of the Goddess: Moving from ‘Sacred’ to ‘Secular’ in the Devī Māhātmya.” Annual Graduate Student Symposium (Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Canada), Feb 1.
2012 “The Hunt for Ahiṃsā: Locating Violence in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.” Graduate Student Departmental Colloquium (Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Canada), April 24.
2011 “Virtue and Violence in the Devī Māhātmya: Kingship, Asceticism, and the Greatness of the Goddess.” Conference on South Asian Religions, (Dept. for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Canada), September 23.
2010 “Virtue and Violence in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa: The Dance of War and Peace.” Research in Religious Studies Conference (Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Lethbridge, Canada), May 1.
2010 “Just War Criteria Prefigured in an Ancient Indian Epic.” Master’s Colloquium (Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Canada), April 8.
2008 “Resolving Rāma: Royalty and Renunciation in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.” Graduate Student Symposium (Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Canada), April 18.
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)
2018- New Books Network (Hindu Studies Channel)
2017 The Power of Myth Podcast (100+episodes)
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.