Current Ph.D. student and alumnus Jason Mitchell, M.A. ’15, partnered with Professor Deepak Shimkhada to write a chapter for Lavanya Vemsani’s edited volume, Modern Hinduism in Text and Context.

Jason and Dr. Shimkhada’s collaboration on “Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods” began three years ago when Jason was one of Dr. Shimkhada’s students. Dr. Shimkhada says, “The genesis of the project goes back to 2015. That year, I presented a paper titled “Panchavati: A Foundation for Ecologically Sustainable Green Earth” at the Pando Populus event at Pomona College. I knew Jason was passionately interested in ecological issues, so I invited him to collaborate with me to flesh out the paper into a book chapter. We tend to think that we are above nature and forget the fact that we are part of it and must learn to live in harmony by respecting and conserving it. I was pleased to see that Jason resonated with that philosophy, found in the concept of Panchavati – as we argued in the present book chapter. Since originally it was a conference paper, it was short – containing only the thesis – but Jason fleshed it out by amassing vast supporting textual and other relevant materials. Undoubtedly, I am pleased with his scholarship.

Jason explains, “Dr. Shimkhada’s mentorship pushes students to see possibility and untapped potential within themselves. He has a personal attachment to the sacred narratives of the Hindu tradition that ignites within his students a desire to go beyond the intellectual, to the Truth of the Hindu tradition as lived in its adherents. Because of his living embodiment of the tradition, students like me are inspired to explore ancient textual narratives in a way that highlights the Truths of these ancient narratives in the lived experiences of our own lives and perhaps even glimpse (if but for a moment) the God in all our endeavors. Steady and demanding, but always grace-filled, Dr. Shimkhada is a scholar who embodies CST’s scholastic acumen and student-focused approach to learning. I also think it is important that we acknowledge that I am just one of many students that Dr. Shimkhada has taken under his tutelage over his storied career.”

The editor of Modern Hinduism in Text and Context, Dr. Vemsani, is a professor of History at Shawnee State University in Ohio. According to the publisher, Vemsani’s book seeks to provide a holistic understanding of modern Hinduism, discussing topics such as yoga, dance, art, and festivals in tandem with questions of spirituality and ritual.