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Tracy Coleman



I am a scholar of Hinduism and its traditions of bhakti (devotion), especially Krishna-bhakti in the Sanskrit epics and purāṇas, and my teaching and research address issues of women, men, and gender in religion and society.  In my work on Krishna's relationships with women in the Harivaṃśa, the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, I reconsider the prevalent claim that bhakti empowers women in social and religious life, and I argue instead that despite the democratic potential of various devotional movements in which women are sometimes glorified, bhakti often functions as a conservative historical process upholding the traditional patriarchal order. Situating the development of bhakti within a larger cultural discourse on dharma (truth, duty, proper behavior), I compare Krishna's relationships with women to the Buddha's ascetic renunciation of women and family, showing how competing conceptions of dharma were linked to heroic male figures as embodiments of truth and authority in socio-religious life.  In addition to a monograph in progress on these topics, I have recently published work on Rādhā, with a focus on the Gītagovinda, and I am currently the Editor in Chief of Oxford Bibliographies--Hinduism. 


Fields: Hinduism and Early Indian Buddhism; Women, Men, and Gender in Religion; Bhakti Literature; Krishna Traditions; Feminisms in Religion


Early Indian Buddhism
Women, Men, and Gender in Religion
Bhakti Literature
Krishna Traditions
Feminisms in Religion

Regular Classes

CC 120 Gender & Sexuality in the Study of Religion/s (First-Year writing seminar)
RE 160
RE 261 Women and Goddesses in Hinduism
RE 352 Holy Men, Manly Men: Gods, Buddhas & Gurus in South Asia
RE 357 Women in Hinduism & Buddhism
RE 362 Bhakti: Devotion in South Asia
RE 405 Thesis Preparation
RE 406 Senior Thesis


  • RE357 – Women in Hinduism and Buddhism
  • RE160 – Hinduism


    Ph.D., Brown University
    M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School
    M.A., Middlebury College (Paris)
    B.A., Rockford College, Phi Beta Kappa

    Papers & Publications

    Tracy Coleman