Office: 311 Divinity and Religious Studies Building
Jarrod Whitaker is a Professor in the Department for the Study of Religions at Wake Forest University, where he teaches courses relating to Asian Religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, and also theory and method courses on religion, ritual, and gender. He served as the Director of the Department’s M.A. Program in Religious Studies (2011-2019), and served as a rotating core faculty member for the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (2015-2017). He holds a M.A. with First Class Honors in Religious Studies from The University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1998), and a Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages from The University of Texas at Austin (2005). He is the author of many articles on ancient India and also the monograph Strong Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in the Ancient India (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Education and CV
Ph.D. in Asian Cultures and Languages, Dept. of Asian Studies, The University of Texas at Austin (1999-2005).
- Ph.D. Dissertation: Drinking Status, Wearing Duty: Magic, Power, and Warrior Ethics in Ancient India.
M.A. in Religious Studies with First Class Honors, The University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1995-1997).
- M.A. Thesis: Divya Astras (Divine Weapons) and Tejas (Fiery Energy) in the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
B.A., Major in Religious Studies, The University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1990-1994).
A Cultural History of Hinduism in Antiquity (2000–200 BCE), Jarrod Whitaker, ed., volume 1 of 6 volume series A Cultural History of Hinduism, Karen Pechilis, senior ed., Bloomsbury Press (anticipated 2020).
Scorched Earth Polemics and the Power of Hate Speech in Ancient India. Manuscript in Progress.
Strong Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India (Oxford University Press, 2011).
“The Danger of Picking Unripe Fruit: Civil Unrest, Open Rebellion, and Political Revolution (kopa) in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra.”
“Heroism, Military Violence, and the State in Ancient India.” In Garrett G. Fagan, Linda Fibiger, Mark Hudson, and Matthew Trundle, eds., The Cambridge World History of Violence: The Prehistoric and Ancient Worlds. Vol. 1 of 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, expected 2019).
“Warfare in Ancient India.” In Meissner, Raaflaub, Schmitt, & Yates, eds. The Cambridge History of War, Volume One: War and the Ancient World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
“Women, Weapons, and Words: Gender and Sexuality in the R̥gveda’s ‘Weapons Hymn’ (6.75).” In Laura Bausch, ed., Self, Sacrifice, and Cosmos: Late Vedic Thought, Ritual, and Philosophy: Papers in Honor of Dr. Ganesh Umakant Thite’s Contributions to Vedic Studies (Delhi: Primus Books, 2019).
“Masculinity and Violence in the Rgveda: Defining the Roles of nar, vira, and śūra.” In Joel P. Brereton and Theodore N. Proferes, eds., Creating the Veda, Living the Veda: Selected Papers from the 13th World Sanskrit Conference (Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2006). Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 379. Helsinki 2018.
“Numbers, Names, Trails, and Tradition: Reconsidering the Phrase ‘Thrice Seven’ in the R̥gveda and Atharvaveda.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 136, no.4, 2016: 689-704.
“What Makes Indra Indra? On indriyá in the Rgveda.” In Joel P. Brereton, ed., The Vedas in Indian Culture and History: Proceedings of the Fourth International Vedic Workshop (Austin, Texas 2007) (Florence, Italy: Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2016): 221-242.
“Rig Veda.” Oxford Bibliographies — Hinduism: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/hinduism (August 30, 2016).
“‘I Boldly Took the Mace (vájra) for Might’: Ritually Weaponizing a Warrior’s Body in Ancient India.” International Journal of Hindu Studies, vol. 20, no. 1 (April 2016; Online Oct 31, 2015): 51-94.
“Who Gets to Live Forever in Ancient India? Rethinking ā́yus (“life”) in the Rgveda.” In Steven E. Lindquist, ed., Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle (New York, London, Delhi: Anthem Press, 2011): 41-68.
“Empowering Men Ritually in Ancient India.” In: Michael Axels, ed. et al, Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, Volume III: State, Power, and Violence (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010): 47-54.
Translation: Paul Horsch. “From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma.” Reprinted in Patrick Olivelle, ed., Dharma: Studies in its Semantic, Cultural and Religious History (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009): 1-26.
“Does Pressing Soma Make You an Aryan? A Brief Review of sushvi– and asushvi– in the Rgveda.” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol.157, no.2, 2007: 417-426.
“Ritual Power, Social Prestige, and Amulets (mani) in the Atharvaveda.” In A. Griffiths & J.E.M. Houben, eds., The Vedas: Texts, Language, & Ritual. Proceedings of the Third International Vedic Workshop, Leiden 2002 (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2004): 565-580.
“Hinduism, Classical.” In Palmer-Fernandez, G., ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and War, 1st ed. (New York: Berkshire/Routledge, 2004): 161-165.
“Hinduism, Vedic.” In Fernandez, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and War: 170-174.
Translation: Paul Horsch. “From Creation Myth to World Law: the Early History of Dharma.” Special Edition of Journal of Indian Philosophy, Patrick Olivelle, ed., Vol. 32, no.5, 2004 (December): 423-448. Originally Paul Horsch (Universität Zürich), “Vom Schöpfungsmythos zum Weltgesetz.” Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Asiankunde, vol.21 (Francke: 1967): 31-61.
“How the Gods Kill: The Narayana Astra Episode, the Death of Ravana, and the Principles of Tejas in the Indian Epics.” Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol.30, no.4, 2002: 403-430.
“Divine Weapons and Tejas in the Two Indian Epics.” Indo-Iranian Journal, vol.43, no.2, 2000: 87-113.
“Barry Stephenson. Ritual: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.” Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion. Online: http://readingreligion.org/books/ritual.
“Greenberg, Yudit Kornberg. The Body in Religion: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. Pp. 263 xlvi.” Religious Studies Review, vol.44, no.3, 2018 (Fall).
“Upinder Singh. Political Violence in Ancient India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. Pp. 598.” The Historian, vol.80, no.3, 2018 (Fall): 581-82. Online: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hisn.12957.
“Micheals, Axel. Homo Ritualis: Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 372+xviii pp.” History of Religions, vol.57, no.3, 2018 (February): 317-320.
“Grimes, Ronald L. The Craft of Ritual Studies. Oxford University Press, 2014. 414+xviii pages.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR), vol.82, no.4, 2014 (December): 1189-92.
“Galewicz, Cezary, A Commentator in Service of the Empire: Sāyaṇa and the Royal Project of Commenting on the Whole of the Veda. Publications of the de Nobili Research Library, vol.35, 327 pp. Vienna: 2010 [2009?]. €39. ISBN 978 3 900271 41 1.” Bulletin for the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol.75, no.2, 2012: 406-407
“Jerryson, Michael K. and Mark Juergensmeyer, Buddhist Warfare (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010): pp.257.” Practical Matters: A Journal of Religious Practices and Practical Theology, Issue 5, 2011: 1-3.
“Powers, John, A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism (Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2009).” Indo-Iranian Journal, vol.53, no.1, 2010: 165-69.
“Proferes, Theodore N., Vedic Ideals of Sovereignty and the Poetics of Power (New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society [American Oriental Series 90], 2007).” Indo-Iranian Journal, vol.51, no.2, 2008 (June): 209–12.
The Atharvaveda and its South Asian Contexts, University of Zürich, Switzerland, September 26-27, 2019. “How to Approach the Atharvaveda Theoretically (while avoiding the Pitfalls of Magic).”
7th International Vedic Workshop, Inter-University-Centre, Dubrovnik, Croatia, August 19-24, 2019. “Vasiṣṭha’s Plea (R̥V.7.104/AV.8.4) as Obligatory Hate Speech, Not Sorcery.”
Rebellion in the Ancient World Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Ancient Studies, January 25–26, 2019. “The Danger of Picking Unripe Fruit: Rebellion, Revolution, and Military Dissension in Ancient India.”
Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI, October 11-14, 2018. Panel Chair/Discussant for “Ethics of Violence in South Asian Religion.”
The 17th World Sanskrit Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada, July 9-13, 2018. “‘Sorcerer’ or ‘Sack of Shit’? Rethinking Yātú and Yātudhā́na in the R̥gveda and Atharvaveda.”
228th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Pittsburgh, PA, March 16–19, 2018. “Scorched-Earth Polemics and the Power of Hate-Speech in Vedic Poetry.”
Wake Forest University Linguistics Circle. “Women, Weapons, and Words: Gender and Sexuality in the R̥gveda’s ‘Weapons Hymn’ (6.75).” October 20, 2017.
227th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Los Angeles, CA, March 17–20, 2017. “Words, Weapons, and Women: The Function of Gendered and Sexualized Tropes in R̥gveda 6.75.”
Self, Sacrifice and Cosmos—Late Vedic Thought, Ritual, and Philosophy: Conference in Honor of Dr. Ganesh Umakant Thite’s Contribution to Vedic Studies. Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley. September 24, 2016. “Sexuality, Parentage, and Violence in Early Vedic Poetry.”
The Cambridge World History of Violence. University of Notre Dame, Rome Global Gateway, Rome, Italy. June 20-22, 2016. “Military Violence in Vedic and Epic India.”
226th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Boston, MA, March 18-21 2016. “Bleeding for Heaven: On the Complex Martial Messages of Mahābhārata 12.96-104.”
American Academy of Religion Conference, Atlanta, GA, Co-Chaired Panel on the future of Stand Alone M.A. Programs in Religious Studies, Nov. 23.
225th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, New Orleans, LA, March 13-16, 2015. “Myth, Ritual, and Tradition: Identifying the ‘Thrice-Seven’ (triṣaptāḥ) in AVŚ.1.1.1.”
224th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Phoenix, AZ, March 14–17, 2014. “Against Magic: Rethinking rákṣas, yātudhā́na, and abhicāra in the R̥gveda and Atharvāṅgirasa.”
6th International Vedic Workshop, Kozhikode, Kerala State, India, 7th–10th, January, 2014. “Words as Weapons/Weaponizing Words: AVŚ.1.1, R̥V.6.75, and the Development of the Vedic Priesthood.”
222th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Boston, MA. “Embodying the Metaphysics of War
in Ancient India.”
American Academy of Religion Conference, San Francisco, CA., Participated in AAR Panel on Stand Alone M.A. Programs in Religion, Nov.19.
Symposium on South Asian Masculinities, University of Miami, Ohio, April 30th. Agni as “Best Man among Men”: Fire Worship, Manhood, and Kin Relations in the Rgveda.
American Academy of Religion, Panel on Weaponry and Violence in South Asian Religions, “‘I Took the Bold Mace for Might.’ Ritually Making the Body into a Weapon in Ancient India.”
2nd National Australian Sanskrit Conference, Canberra, Australia, “Who’s Listening to the Rgveda and What Are They Hearing?”
220th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, St. Louis, MO. “Encoding and Decoding the Rgveda.”
Sept. 14th World Sanskrit Conference, Kyoto, Japan, September 1-5, 2009. “Empowering Men Ritually in Ancient India.”
Sept-Oct. Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual Conference, Heidelberg, Germany. “On Strong-Arms and Drinking Strength: Masculinity, Violence, and the Body in the Rgveda.”
March. 218th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Chicago, IL. “On Indra’s Body.”
May. The Fourth International Vedic Workshop: The Vedas in Culture and History, Austin, TX: “Indrahood (indriyá) and the Human Indra.”
Mar. 217th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, San Antonio, TX: “Who Gets to Live Forever in Ancient India? Rethinking ā́yus (“lifetime”) in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda 1.35.”
November. New England Conference of the Association for Asian Studies: Magical Practice and Magical Thinking in Asian Culture: “Who Gets to Live Forever in Ancient India? Rethinking ā́yus (“life”) in the Rgveda.” Read In Absentia.
July. 13th World Sanskrit Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland: “Masculinity and Violence in the Rgveda: Reconsidering the roles of nár, vīrá, and śū́ra.”
March. 216th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Seattle, WA: “How Exactly is the Dragon Killed? The Importance of śávas in the Rgveda.”
March. 214th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, San Diego, California: “Drinking Status, Wearing Duty: Reconsidering ójas, “authority”, in the Rgveda and Atharvaveda.”
October. Asian Studies Graduate Conference, University of Texas at Austin: “Ritual Power and Social Prestige in Atharvavedic Magical Thought.”
June. 3rd International Vedic Workshop, Leiden, Netherlands: “Ritual Metaphysics vs. Ritual Performance: An Account of Magic in the Atharvaveda.”
March. 212th Meeting of the American Oriental Society, Houston, Texas: “Ritual Metaphysics and Ontology vs. Ritual Performance: An Account of Magic in the Atharvaveda.”
September. University of Texas at Austin History Dept. Conference on Violence: “The Tension Between Warrior and Kingly Battle Ethics in the Mahabharata.”
August. The Biannual Australia and New Zealand Religious Studies Conference: “The Principles of the Divine Weapons (Divya Astras) and Fiery Energy (Tejas) in India’s Two Epics.”
- REL 101: Introduction to Religion
- REL 104: Introduction to Asian Religions
- REL 108: Introduction to Hindu Traditions
- REL 109: Introduction to Buddhist Traditions
- REL 200/300: Approaches to the Study of Religion
- REL 286: Ancient Indian Religion and Culture
- REL 286: Upaniṣads and Urbanization in Ancient India
- REL 306/606: Ritual Studies
- REL 386/686: The Indian Epics: The Mahābharata
- REL 387/687: Magic, Ritual, and Power in Indian Culture
- REL 387/687: Priests, Warriors, & Ascetics in Ancient India
- REL 390: Hindu Religious Traditions
- REL 390: Ritual, Symbolism, and Power in Europe
- SKT 111-112: Introduction to Sanskrit
- REL 700: Method and Theory in the Study of Religion
- REL 703: Postmodern Perspectives on Power, Symbolism, & Performance
- WGS 221/622: Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (co-taught)