UDAIPUR: New Yorker Prof. John Stratton Hawley was on Sunday bestowed the prestigious Col. James Tod Award, the highest honor and the only International Award at the Maharana Mewar Foundation Awards in Udaipur. Prof. Hawley, a Claire Tow professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University, has written and edited some twenty books on Hinduism, India’s Bhakti traditions and the comparative study of religion.
His most recent work on the beautifully illustrated Maharana Amar Singh II Sursagar, painted in the royal atelier at Mewar, lies at the heart of a new 100-page-long chapter that appears in the revised and expanded edition of his thematic study, Surdas: Poet, Singer, Saint. Prof. Hawley’s book features about thirty color plates while he undertook manuscript work in Udaipur and dates back to the 1970s.
Proud of his flair on the Hindi language, Prof. Hawley is extremely comfortable carrying on whole conversations in Hindi, much to the audience’s delight, as he displayed by giving his speech in chaste Hindi at Awards Evening. Speaking to the TIO Bureau Chief, Shirin Abbas, over a brief breakfast meeting, Prof. Hawley said he had been drawn by the rich learnings in India’s Bhakti texts of India under the larger umbrella of Hinduism and drawn to the legacy of the great blind poet Surdas. “Over 2016-17 I was in India as a Fulbright Nehru Fellow and did some work on a project called The New Vrindavan.” I am fascinated by the rich literature emerging from the Bhakti movement and keen to study them further. There is just so much to do,” he averred.
Prof. Hawley teaches courses on the Bhakti Movement, Bhakti texts of North India, Love translated: Hindu Bhakti; World Religions- Idea, Display, Institution Hinduism in the US, Issues in the Study of South Asian religion at Barnard College and Columbia University. He has for many years taught Columbia’s introductory course on Hinduism. Last fall he offered a seminar devoted specifically to Krishna.
Prof Hawley was conferred the Maharana Mewar International Annual Colonel James Tod Award for his outstanding contribution through his works of permanent value and understanding of the spirit and values of Mewar.
Author Bio: Some of Prof. Hawley’s works are: A Storm of Songs: India and the idea of the Bhakti Movement ( Harvard 2015) , Sur’s Ocean (with Kenneth Bryant, Harvard 2015) and Three Bhakti Voices (Oxford 2005) A Storm of Songs has also received the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy book prize of the Association of Asian Studies in 2017