Dr. Seema Chauhan
Assistant Professor, School of Religion
Seema K. Chauhan is the Assistant Professor of Asian Religions in the School of Religion, Theology, and Peace Studies. She holds an MPhil in Classical Indian Religions from the University of Oxford (2015) and a PhD in South Asian Religions from the University of Chicago Divinity School (2021). Prior to her arrival at Trinity College Dublin in 2023, Seema held the Asoke Kumar Sarkar Early Career Fellowship in Classical Indology at the University of Oxford Balliol College (2021-2022). She specialises in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in South Asia, and has broader interests in Comparative Literature and Premodern History.
Currently, Professor Chauhan is establishing a new area of expertise in Asian Religions in the School of Religion. She offers unique undergraduate courses that cover multiple religions, time periods and methodological approaches in the study of South Asian religions. This year, her courses include "REU12772 Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism", "REU22703 Religion Through Bollywood", "REU33732 Hindu Mythology" and "REU44742 Ancient Indian Religions". Moreover, she supervises capstone projects and postgraduate research in Asian religions, philosophy and literature and welcomes further enquiries into such topics of research.
Publications and Further Research Outputs
Seema K. Chauhan, Jaina Narrative Refutations of Kumarila: Relative Chronology and the History of Jaina-Mimamsa dialogues, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 51, 2023, p239 - 261
Seema K. Chauhan, (Mis)Understanding Hinduism: Representations of Hinduism in Jaina Puranas, University of Chicago, 2021
DescriptionMy research expertise lies in premodern Hinduism and Jainism through Sanskrit and Prakrit sources. This often means adopting a text-historical approach that examines how religious ideologies emerge and change across various textual genres such as narrative, philosophy and ritual treatises. I am especially interested in the ways in which we can recover the perspective of the minority in South Asia. Put simply, I ask, what happens when we narrate the history of South Asia between 0 CE -1000 CE through the eyes of a community who were silenced, ignored, or mocked by others? My current book project, "The Story of Hinduism: Religion and Identity in Jaina Narratives" therefore centres the perspective of Jainism, a minority religion often stereotyped by their adherence to naked asceticism and their vows of non-violence. It demonstrates the ways in which Jainas engage in deep, often provocative, examinations of religious identity and genre through parodies of Hindu literature. On the one hand, "The Story of Hinduism" is a story about religious identity. It recovers how followers of the Jina, Jainas, began to examine and represent Hinduism as a unified religion as a way of making sense of the multifarious identity of those who silenced them. On the other hand, "The Story of Hinduism" is story about story. It reconstructs the emergence of Jaina narrative genres in first millennium South Asia. More precisely, it demonstrates how Jaina storytellers rejected the genre boundaries that Hindu writers were imposing between scripture, narrative, and philosophy. Taken together, the two interconnected stories that my book tells--one of religious identity and another of genre-- reposition the study of minority religions as central to the study of Hinduism and South Asian history. Outside this book, my research on South Asian philosophical dialogues, goddess traditions, caste and society, gender and sexuality, and Jaina biographies collectively work together to reveal voices that have been marginalised in Premodern Asia.
Steering Committee Member, Jainism Unit AAR
Steering Committee Member, South Asian Religions Unit AAR
Awards and Honours
Asoke Kumar Sarkar Early Career Fellowship in Classical Indology, University of Oxford
Martin Marty Center Junior Research Fellowship for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion, University of Chicago
Prize for Excellence in Teaching, University of Chicago Divinity School
The Committee on Southern Asian Studies Summer Research Fellowship, University of Chicago
Okita Bursary, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
Gupta Dan Bursary, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
Highest Overall Degree Mark in Religious and Theological Studies, Cardiff University
T.H Robinson Prize for Excellence in a Classical Language, Cardiff University
Association for Asian Studies
American Academy of Religion
American Oriental Society
International Association for Jaina Studies