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I'm Bihani, a Calcutta-born Oxford-educated scholar of classical Sanskrit literature and pre-modern Indian history and religious traditions. I'm a lecturer in Comparative Non-Western Thought at Lancaster University. Before coming to Lancaster, I was departmental lecturer in Sanskrit at Oriental Institute, University of Oxford. I've researched and taught in universities in the UK and in Europe. While starting out as an academic, I began to teach Sanskrit online in order to make some extra income.  I soon realized that online lessons are more than just a way to pay the bills. They are powerful educational tools for generating open-minded and informed conversations in the public domain and for conveying pioneering research in the field in an accessible manner to the wider world. Alokā's mission is to achieve these goals for classical Sanskrit and the knowledge of early India, at a time when both are increasingly used to fit an ideology.

I have a passion for communicating and sharing my love for the great jewels of ancient Indian learning with others beyond academia. My teaching goal is to enable everyone access to early Indian Sanskrit texts and traditions in the original language, regardless of ability or prior knowledge, and to think about them in critical, modern, and exciting ways. I wish to inspire potential students with the same curiosity and intrigue that inspired me to study Sanskrit from scratch, after doing a first degree in English literature. I believe knowledge is for everyone and it is a privilege to be able to share it with those wanting to learn.


I combine my research with my teaching, ensuring that students are exposed to the questions and scholarly developments at the forefront of research.

For my institutional affiliation see:


For my academic website see:





  •  Heroic Shāktism: the cult of Durgā in ancient Indian kingship, British Academy Postdoctoral Monograph Series, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Nov 2017


  • Classical Sanskrit tragedy: the Concept of Pathos and suffering in Medieval India,  I.B.Tauris-Bloomsbury, UK (peer-review complete; forthcoming November 2020).


Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

  •  'The Rite of Durgā in Medieval Bengal: An Introductory Study of Raghunandana's Durgāpūjātattva with Text and Translation of the Principal Rites’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, Volume 22, Issue 02, pp. 325–390. April 2012



  • 'What makes a good poet according to Someśvaradeva? Reflections on Poetic Merit and Demerit and the Ethics of Poetry in the Surathotsava and the Kīrtikaumudī', Acta Orientalia’ Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Volume 66 (1), pp. 25–45.Mar 2013‘


  • 'Poetics and Morality in the opening verses of the Surathotsava and the Kīrtikaumudī (texts, translations and remarks)’. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, Volume 67 (2), pp. 215–248. June 2014



  • 'License and Faithfulness: Taking liberties with Kathā in classical Sanskrit poetry and aesthetics', Journal of Indological Studies, Nos. 26-27 (2014-2015), Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 83–142. March 2017


  • 'The Tale of King Suratha and its Literary reception: Texts and Translations', Asian Literature and Translation, 5(1), pp. 146-266.    Nov. 2018


Requested articles:

  • ‘Thy Fierce Lotus-Feet: Danger and Benevolence in Medieval Sanskrit Poems to Mahiṣāsuramardinī-Durgā’ in Nina Mirnig, Péter-Dániel Szántó & Michael Williams (eds.) Puṣpikā Vol. 1: Proceedings of the First International Indology Graduate Research Symposium (St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University, September 28-29, 2009), Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. 407–441. 2013


  • 'From Magic to Deity, Matter to Persona: The exaltation of Māyā', The Goddess in the History of Hinduism Series, edited by Mandakranta Bose, series edited by Gavin Flood, Oxford University Press, UK, pp. 39-62, June 2018.

  • 'Where ants dig up gold: ‘India’, selfhood and the myths manufacturing a nation', The British Academy Review, No. 30. June 2017

  • Review of J. Knutson, “Into the twilight of Sanskrit Court Poetry: The Sena Salon of Bengal and Beyond”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 79/2. June 2016


  • 'Durgā', in Oxford Bibliographies in Hinduism. Ed. Tracy Coleman. New York: Oxford University Press. . May 2019


  • 'Toward a history of the Navarātra, the autumnal festival of the Goddess’, in Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions: in honour of Professor Alexis G.J.S Sanderson, Gonda Indological Series Vol 22, edited by Shaman Hatley, Dominic Goodall, Srilata Raman, Brill: Leiden . August 2020


  •  'Śākta Epigraphy', Brill Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, forthcoming December 2021.


BA (Hons. First Class) in English Language and Literature

October 2002 - September 2005

St. Hilda's College, University of Oxford

M.Phil in Classical Indian Religions

Oct 2005 - September 2007

Wolfson College, University of Oxford


Trained in Sanskrit language and grammar; read texts from the Indian religious traditions. Overall Mark: 67; First in papers on Sanskrit Texts (Mark: 76), Grammar (Mark: 72) and Unprepared Translation (Mark: 75).

D.Phil (Oriental Studies: Sanskrit)

Oct 2007-Nov 2011

Wolfson College, University of Oxford

Thesis title: 'The Heroic Cult of the Sovereign Goddess in Medieval India'


  • Bengali (native)

  • Hindi

  • English

  • Sanskrit

  • Prakrit (with Sanskrit translation)

  • French (beginners')

  • German (beginners')

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