Dr. Shakuntala Gawde is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai. She is coordinator for the section of World religion and Philosophy (Jagatika dharma ani Tattvadnyana), Maharashtra Rajya Vishvakosha Nirmiti Mandal.
She is the first ranker and gold medallist in B.A. (Sanskrit) and M.A. (Sanskrit- Vedānta). She secured prestigious prize of Zala Vedanta. She has done M.Phil. (Sanskrit) on the topic ‘Eschatology in Upaniṣads’ and her Ph.D (Sanskrit) was on the topic ‘Eschatology in Vedic Literature compared with the Western Philosophy’.
Her areas of interest include Vedānta, Religious studies, Comparative Philosophy, Purāṇa studies and Aesthetics. Her papers are published in renowned journals and edited books. She has contributed articles to encyclopaedias including Hindu-Christian Dictionary, Encyclopedia of Bhasha Research Centre, Encyclopaedia of Hinduism and Tribal Religions (Springer) etc. She has presented research papers in State, National and International seminars including World Sanskrit Conference 2015.
She is resource person for courses on Upaniṣads, Leadership science and Aesthetics. She has conducted sessions on ‘Film and Philosophy’ for easy understanding of philosophy through films. She was invited as a ‘Key note speaker and Visiting Fellow’ by Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka in 2017.
Role in the project:
Dr. Shakuntala Gawde is leading the project “Bhāgavata Traditions in Maharashtra” undertaken by the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre. She is currently collaborating with researchers in the field in order to produce an edited volume on this topic. She is exploring Maharashtra’s Bhāgavata traditions with a multidisciplinary approach in order to understand reflections of indigenous culture intermingled with Bhāgavata thought and culture as syncretic religious traditions developed in this region. She is particularly looking for the cross-cultural influences of Maharashtrian Bhāgavata traditions. This includes seeking unknown commentaries from the Eknāthī paraṁparā, examining the process of transmission of Tukārām’s abhaṅgas in South India, looking at the tradition of Bhāgavata Melā, searching illustrated manuscripts of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa from Maharashtra, and locating interconnections of Mahānubhāva and Datta Saṁpradāyas with Bhāgavata Saptāha traditions. In this way she is connecting art traditions, textual traditions, philosophical traditions and narrative traditions of Maharashtra insofar as these relate to the broader Bhāgavata tradition.
Bhagavata-related Projects and Publications:
1) “Exploring the meaning of Bhāgavata Purāṇa through Narrative Analysis (Selected episodes from tenth skandha)” is completed under the auspices of fellowship granted by Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, St. Xaviers College, Mumbai and The Sir Dorabaji Tata Trust.
Abstract: This work explores the meaning of tenth skandha of Bhāgavata Purāṇa by understanding its Narrative structure. Theoretical frameworks developed by K. Ayyappa Paniker, Genette, Roland Barthes are applied to narratives of Bhāgavata Purāṇa to understand deeper meaning of narratives. It adopts tool box approach for exploring meaning through different narratives of tenth skandha. Sociological, philosophical, historical interpretation is undertaken as per the context and inter-textual readings. As a part of this project, Heras Institute has published a following research paper in International journal ‘Indica’.
Pūtanā episode from Bhāgavata Purāṇa (Exploring the meaning through Narrative Analysis), Indica, Vol. 55, ed. Joan Dias, Journal of the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, ISSN: 0019-686X, St. Xaviers College, Mumbai, September 2018, pp. 79-98
2) Bhāgavata Traditions in Maharashtra is a project taken by Bhaktivedanta Research Institute Mumbai.
Abstract: Bhaktivedanta Research Center has taken up an independent research project on ‘Bhāgavata Traditions in Maharashtra.’ Project aims at exploring Bhāgavata traditions of Maharashtra from multidisciplinary approach. Its objective is to understand philosophical and social intricacies of Vārakarī Saṁpradāya. It aims to explore less known texts and commentary literature of Maharshtrian Bhāgavata Saṁpradāya. E.g. Eknāthī Bhāgavata, Rukmiṇī Svayṁvar, Uddhavagīta, Catuhślokī Bhāgavata, Commentaries from Eknāthī paraṁparā etc. It seeks to understand interconnections between Bhāgavata Saṁpradāya of Maharashtra and other cults of Maharashtra like Mahānubhāva and Datta Saṁpradāya. Understanding the transmission of Bhāgavata elements from Maharashtrian tradition to other states is another interesting aspect to be explored. Maharashtrian folk culture has deep impact of Bhāgavata traditions. Bhajans, Kīrtans, Bhāruḍs, Gavaļaṇs are part of Maharashtra’s narrative tradition. Maharashtrian textual, narrative, art and Saptāha traditions based on Bhāgavata will be explored. Project will also study sacred geography of Maharashtra which has Bhāgavata influence. Main aim of the project is to bring an edited volume with scholarly articles. Next phase of this project will involve English translations of crucial texts belonging to Bhāgavata tradition of Maharashtra.
Dr. Shakuntala Gawde (Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai)-Project Lead
Dr. Sumanta Rudra (Dean Academic, BVRC)
Sneha Nagarkar (Research Assistant)
3) “Govardhanamāhātmya in Texts and Tradition” -Sociological and Philosophical exegesis is on-going project under the auspices of Minor Research Project Grant of University of Mumbai for the year 2019-20.
Abstract: Govardhanamāhātmya plays a key role in shaping the cultural notions about Vraja. This study will analyse different narratives describing the glory of Govardhana from sociological and philosophical perspective. Objective of this research is to explore the cultural history of Govardhana mountain through literary sources of Vaiṣṇavism. Govardhana is symbolic of great social process of “assimilation and acculturation” which is the crux of Hinduism. It not only proves that religion was always adaptive to include new changes and new reforms but gives the idea of all-inclusive approach of Kṛṣṇa philosophy. It will be clear from the study that Vaiṣṇavism has gone through revolutionary changes from the beginning and attained the current form. Philosophical study will throw light on the principle that how Govardhana has attained a transcendental status for devotees.
Papers presented at various seminars related to Bhāgavata
1) ‘Pūtanā episode from Bhāgavata Purāṇa– Various Interpretations’, World Sanskrit Conference 2015 organized by Silpakorn University Bangkok, 28th June 2014-2nd July 2015
2) ‘Kāliyamardana episode in Bhāgavata Purāṇa-various interpretations’, A symposium on ‘Big History Green History’ organized by the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, 21st and 22nd November 2017
3) ‘Govardhana- Assimilation and Acculturation’, National seminar on Vraj to Braj organized by Braj Sanskriti Shodh Sansthan’ on 6th to 8th December 2019
Dr. Shakuntala Gawde
Department of Sanskrit
University of Mumbai