In this episode we talk with Patton Burchett about his latest book A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (2019, Columbia University Press) and his upcoming course, YS 115 | A History of Yoga and Devotion. Patton tells Seth about the teachers who inspired his studies, and how academics confuse the social and interactive nature of Indian devotional practices with a more solitary Judeo-Christian concept of devotion. They also dive into the competing influences of Persian and Sanskritic culture in North India that shaped the growing Bhakti movements of the time, the communalist politics of modern religious identities in North India, and the relations between bhaktas like Kabīr and yogīs like Gorkhnāth.
Patton Burchett is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He earned his PhD in South Asian Religions from Columbia University in 2012 and then spent three years as an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in Religious Studies at New York University (NYU). Patton's research focuses on early modern devotional (bhakti) traditions and tantric and yogic religiosity in North India and on the interrelations of magic, science, and religion in the rise of Indian and Western modernities. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on bhakti literature and Mughal-era Indian religious history (among other topics), and his first book, A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (Columbia University Press) was published in 2019.