Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Ph.D. Students Awarded Fellowships by the Office of Graduate Studies

Fri, April 20, 2007

Neil Dalal, Ph.D. candidate in Asian Cultures and Languages, was awarded a Wendell Gordon Endowed Graduate Fellowship. Neil's dissertation research analyzes contemplative practice in Advaita Vedanta and explores the ways in which it functions as a vital bridge between sacred texts and immediately understood knowledge. He is studying the underlying epistemology of contemplative practice and tracing the historical evolution of its relevant debates within the Advaita tradition. In addition, he is conducting ethnographic fieldwork with contemporary Advaita monks to understand their contemplative processes and the relationship between epistemology and lived practice. Neil recently returned from a year of research in India on a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship.

David Brick and Matthew Sayers, Ph.D. candidates in Asian Cultures and Languages, were awarded University Continuing Fellowships.

David is working on a theoretical study of premodern Indian theories of gifting, as reflected in the vast corpus of Sanskrit literature written on the topic. An additional, important outcome of his dissertation will be the first critical edition and English translation of the Daanakaan.d.a, the fifth section of an work called the Kr.tyakalpataru (c. 1110-1150 CE) and the earliest Indian work devoted exclusively to gift-giving.

Matt's research focuses on the North Indian pilgrimage site of Gaya. Tradition says this is the best place to perform the shraddha, a ritual to promote one's father to the world of the ancestors. He is reading the Gaya Mahatmya, a religious text extolling the site, and exploring the negotiations in the text over two, seemingly contradictory, ultimate goals of human efforts at salvation, namely the attainment of heaven or final release from worldly existence.

Ian Woolford, Ph.D. student in Asian Cultures and Languages, was awarded a Graduate School Fellowship. Ian is conducting research in Bihar, in the village of the 20th-century Hindi author Phanishwarnath Renu. He focuses on the overlapping genres of ethnography, folklore, and fiction and is working with the community to produce an ethnographic text that parallels Renu's writings.

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