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aditya malik

Aditya Malik

Professor (on leave till August 31, 2017)

School of Historical Studies

Aditya Malik was born in Bombay and spent most of his childhood moving between the cities of Chicago in USA, and Baroda and Shimla in India. He was trained in philosophy, archaeology, history, social anthropology and religious studies at St. Stephen's College (Delhi), Deccan College (Pune) and the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg (Germany) from where he received his Ph.D. in the History of Religions, and Habilitation (professorial degree) in Modern Indian Studies. He has been a Senior Fellow of the German Research Council (Heidelberg); Visiting Faculty, Institute for Advanced Study, Hebrew University (Jerusalem); Visiting Professor, Cluster Innovative Centre, University of Delhi; Fellow, Max-Weber-Centre for Advanced Social Science Research (Erfurt/Germany); Deputy Director, New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC); Associate Director, New Zealand India Research Institute (NZIRI); and Head of Religious Studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research interests and publications, including sole authored books, edited volumes, articles and book chapters, are on pilgrimage, oral traditions, ritual embodiment and performance, religion, law and justice, and medieval and contemporary historiography in South Asia.

Professor Malik is currently a Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg for Advanced Social and Cultural Studies at the University of Erfurt in Germany for the period of one year between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017.


Professor Malik has conducted several years of field research into pilgrimage, oral narratives and ritual performance in Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. He is the recipient of several highly competitive research grants from Germany and New Zealand.


Professor Malik has published several sole authored books, edited volumes, and numerous book chapters and articles including:

  • A monograph in German on the pilgrimage site of Pushkar entitled: Das Púṣkara-Māhātmya: Ein religionswissenschaftlicher Beitrag zum Wallfahrtsbegriff in Indien. (Stuttgart:Franz Steiner Verlag, 1993, pp. xiii, 408).
  • Two volumes on the oral narrative of the folk deity Devnarayan from Rajasthan: (1) Nectar Gaze and Poison Breath. An analysis and translation of the Rajasthani oral narrative of Devnarayan, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 548) and (2) Shri Devnarayan Katha: An oral narrative of Marwar, (Heidelberg/New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 2003, pp. 424).
  • Amongst his edited volumes are: (1) Flags of Fame: Studies in South Asian Folk Culture (with Heidrun Brueckner and Lothar Lutze, Heidelberg/New Delhi: Manohar, 1993/2007, pp. 503); (2) King of Hunters, Warriors and Shepherds: Essays on Khandoba (with Anne Feldhaus and Heidrun Brueckner, New Delhi: IGNCA/Manohar, 1997, pp. 353); (3) In the Company of Gods: Essays in Honour of Guenther-Dietz Sontheimer (with Anne Feldhaus and Heidrun Brueckner, 2005, New Delhi: IGNCA/Manohar, pp. 409).
  • His other work has been published in SITES: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (2009), in Hinduism and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2010), in Ritual Matters: Dynamic Dimensions in Practice (Routledge, 2010), and in the new Encyclopaedia of Hinduism published by Brill (Vol. 2 & 3, 2010, 2011). He has also written one of two introductory chapters to Health and Religious Rituals in South Asia: Disease, Possession and Healing (Routledge, 2011) as well as a chapter in the edited volume entitled The Law of Possession: Ritual, Healing and the Secular State (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • His most recent book is entitled: Tales of Justice and Rituals of Divine Embodiment: Oral Narratives from the Central Himalayas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. xx, 295). This book is based on extensive research into oral narratives and rituals of divine embodiment, and on the interface of religion, law and social justice in the context of regional and local legal and healing practices in the Central Himalayas with relation to Goludev, the 'God of Justice'. Click here for more details.
  • Professor Malik is co-editor (with Will Sweetman) of the new Sage Handbook of Hinduism in India: Modern and Contemporary Movements (New Delhi: Sage, 2016, pp. 330).
  • He is currently working on a literary and historical study of a medieval Sanskrit poetical, historical work called the Hammira-Mahakavya composed by a Jaina poet from Rajasthan.

Joint Research Project

Professor Malik is currently collaborating with Professor Ursula Rao (Chair in South Asian Ethnology, University of Leipzig) on the formulation of a long-term joint research project on ancient and contemporary aspects of Nalanda and Rajgir which will involve the disciplines of history, archaeology, social anthropology, heritage studies, and environmental studies. It is envisioned that the project will be funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and will include scholars, MA and PhD students from Nalanda University and Leipzig University

Research Fellowships and Academic Positions

  • Professor Malik has held senior research fellowships of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) at the University of Heidelberg besides being the Resident Representative of the South Asia Institute (University of Heidelberg) in New Delhi.
  • He has been a visiting scholar of the Israel Academy of Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • He was head of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Canterbury (2002-2004) and has held various other academic administrative positions.
  • He is a UNESCO International Consultant, and founding member and erstwhile deputy director of the New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC) at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
  • He was Visiting Professor at Delhi University in 2012, and Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg for Advanced Social Science Research at the University of Erfurt (2013-2014).
  • He has also been Associate Director of the newly established New Zealand India Research Insitutute (NZIRI) at Victoria University, Wellington in New Zealand (2013-2014).


  • B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy, St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi
  • M.A. in Ancient Indian History, Culture, and Archaeology, Deccan College, University of Pune
  • PhD in History of Religions of South Asia, University of Heidelberg
  • Habilitation (professorial degree) in Modern Indian Studies, University of Heidelberg
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