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Learn more about my bookPhoto The Fading Light of Advaita Acarya: Three Hagiographies

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Rebecca Manring

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies and Dhar India Studies Program

Adjunct Faculty, Comparative Literature

Sycamore Hall, Rm. 213
(812) 855-6756


Ph.D., University of Washington, 1995

Research Interests

Professional Biography

My first body of  research centers on the Bengali Vaishnava community of northeastern India. My project Reconstructing Tradition: Advaita Acarya and Gaudiya Vaisnavism at the Cusp of the Twentieth Century (Columbia University Press, 2005), explores the use of the hagiographical corpus treating Advaita Acharya, one of the early leaders of Bengali Vaishnavism. Controversy surrounding dates of composition of several of these works led to my discovery of how western education of certain elite Bengalis impacted the nineteenth-century reformation of the entire Vaishnava movement, and led to the production of an entirely new, self-conscious type of hagiography. My second book, The Fading Light of Advaita Acarya (Oxford University Press, 2011), is a translation of  three of these hagiographies . My work to ensure the preservation of the Sukumar Sen manuscript collection grew out of that research. Sukumar Sen, perhaps this century's leading scholar of Bengali literature, and the individual most responsible for the spread of interest in that literature outside of the region, amassed an impressive manuscript collection during his lifetime. Our preserving his collection in toto now allows scholars a glimpse of what, in the eyes of that prominent scholar, constitutes Bengali literature. I've produced a catalogue of the collection (Resources for Scholarship on Asia, published by the Association for Asian Studies, Inc., 2006), and the IU library now owns one copy of the microfilm of the manuscripts.

My next book project is a translation of Rupram Chakravarty’s 17th century Middle Bengali epic, the Dharma Mangala. This is a wonderful multi-generational tale of adventure in eastern India that gives us a sense of how ordinary people – not just those at the top of the social hierarchy – lived and thought about their lives.  And eventually I hope to return to my project on sectarian Sanskrit grammars. Scholars in various religious traditions around South Asia developed such grammars, often modelled on Panini's masterful work but using sectarian tropes to illustrate each grammatical issue raised. Like the hagiographies, these grammars were intended not just to instruct, but to serve definite political purposes. In this project I am studying the grammar Jiva Gosvami developed for Bengali Vaishnava scholars.

I teach courses in Sanskrit, women in South Asian religious traditions, religion in South Asian cinema, and literatures of India in translation. 50% of my appointment is in the Dhar India Studies Program, and I am an adjunct member of the Comparative Literature Department.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


The Fading Light of Advaita Acarya: Three Hagiographies. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Reconstructing Tradition: Advaita Acarya and Gaudiya Vaisnavism at the Cusp of the Twentieth Century. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).


"Does Krsna Really Need His Own Grammar? Jiva Gosvamin’s Answer." International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (2008):257-286.

"Vaisnava Jīvanī-Sāhityacarcāya Sukumāra Sena", Bańgīya Sāhitya Parisat Patrikā, Vol.106, No. 1-4, 1409 Bengali Era (2002 C.E.), pp. 99-102.

"The Sukumar Sen (Barddhamān Sāhitya Sabhā) Manuscript Collection", Sukumar Sen Centenary Volume, Pavitra Sarkar, editor. Bangla Academy, Kolkata, 2002.

"Vaisnava Jīvanīra Carcā o Sukumara Sena", Bangīya Sāhitya Parisat Patrikā, 2002.

"Sita Devi: An Early Vaisnava Guru, in The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States", Karen Pechilis-Prentiss, editor. Oxford University Press, 2002.

"The Gaudīya Vaisnava Philosophy and the Life of Advaitācārya", Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Vol. XLIX No. 9. October 1998.

"At Home in the World: The Lives of Sītādevī", International Journal of Hindu Studies, Volume 2, No. 1 (1998):21-42.


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