Hinduism in America Grant Program: Past Awardees

The Hindu American Foundation's academic grant program aims to fund rigorous scholarly research on Hindu Americans, Hinduism as it is practiced in America, or the intersection of Hindu Americans and public policy. Where feasible, comparisons to the practice of Hinduism in other parts of the diaspora or India are encouraged. The primary focus should be on Hinduism in America broadly construed.

2012 Grant Awardees

Rita Biagioli, Ph.D. student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago
Grant: $2500
 
Hindu Summer Camps in the Diaspora and “Trans”-mitting Religious Values in an Altered Context
 
Abstract: The author attended a Hindu summer camp in 2012 in order to understand the transmission of Hindu values in the American diaspora. She investigated Hinduism and identity formation in second generation Hindus, as well as the ways in which religion is transmitted more broadly. The author sought to better understand how Hindus have created such thriving and sustainable communities in America despite their regional differences, and how these communities seek to unify themselves and to create an American Hindu identity. Understanding the ways in which history and community dictate how religions come to be interpreted and passed down will significantly improve the scholarly understanding of how religions prosper.
 
Dimple Dhanani, Ph.D. student in the Department of Religion, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Grant: $2500
 
Media as a Modality of the Divine: Communication in the Hindu-American Guru-Disciple Relationship
 
Abstract: From the earliest sources in ancient India, there is reference to the guru/disciple relationship. Although its essence has remained unchanged throughout history, the articulation of this relationship in contemporary mass media has led to various problems and limitations, but it has also created new opportunities for Hindus to re-envision what it means to be a guru, and perhaps more importantly, what it means to be a disciple. As media technology has grown and changed, it has added a new dimension to a foundational ritual practice in Hinduism, the act of darshan, or seeing the divine image of the deity or guru and being seen by him or her. The effect this new technology has had on the concept of darshan with respect to the guru has been to shrink time and space between guru and disciple, and this has important implications in the contemporary manifestation of the tradition. One of the limitations in this new modality of meeting with and viewing the guru through media is the inherent depersonalization that results, since the process involves only two of the senses (sight and hearing). New and changing facets provide fertile ground for interrogation for media as a modality of the divine within the dynamics of the Hindu American guru-disciple relationship.