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Nirajan Kafle

Associate Professor of Sanskrit, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Institute for Area Studies, Leiden

Nirajan Kafle is Associate Professor of Sanskrit at Ashoka University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Naples “L’Orientale,”working on the ‘Sivadharma’ European Research Council project. After completing a D.Phil. from the University of Leiden, Nirajan held a post-doctoral research position in the NWO project ‘From Universe of Viṣṇu to Universe of Śiva’. Nirajan has worked with the NGMCP, Kathmandu and the EFEO, Pondicherry EFEO. He has also taught Sanskrit and other allied topics at the Universities of Loyola(New Orleans),  Leiden,  Lumbini and Kathmandu. He works on Lay Śaivism,  Purāṇas and the Mahābhārata, and his interests also cover Śaiva Tantra  and Vedic texts. 

His current research focuses on the text-based evaluation of religious, cultural, and philosophical exchange – principally between the Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva and Buddhist traditions of early mediæval South Asia, with specific emphasis on the religious and social milieu of the Kathmandu valley reflected in the Umāmāheśvarasaṃvāda and the Dharmaputrikā in their historical context.

  • A Śaiva Utopia: The Śivadharma’s Revision of Brahmanical Varṇāśramadharma. Studies on the History of Śaivism, 1. University of Napoli L’Orientale Press, 2021.
  • Niśvāsamukhatattvasaṃhitā: A Preface to the Earliest Surviving Śaiva Tantra (on non-Tantric Śaivism at the Dawn of the Mantramārga). Critical Edition, with In- troduction & Annotated Translation and an Appendix containing Śivadharmasaṅgraha 5–9. Collection Indologie 145, Early Tantra Series 6. Pondichéry/Hamburg: IFP/EFEO, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg, 2020.
  • 2005 Gold Medal from Nepal Sanskrit University, (Nepal)
  • 2014 Gonda Fund fellowship whilst conducting research at IIAS, (Leiden) 
  • 2013 Visiting scholarship at the University of Kyōto
  • 2011 NRC grant in support of Maṇicūḍajātaka-workshop, Pune, Nov. 1–18 2009 Oxford first International Graduate Research Symposium
  • 2008–2010 Full time Research scholarship Early Tantra Project, EFE
  • 2021 The Umāmaheśvarasaṃvāda of the Śivadharma and its network. In Śivadharmāmṛta. Essays on the Śivadharma and its Network Edited by Florinda de Simini and Csaba Kiss. University of Naples: UniorPress, pp. 233-254.
  • 2019 “The kṛṣṇāṣṭamīvrata in the Śivadharmaśāstra: A Comparative Edition and Study” Indo-Iranian Journal 62 (2019), pp. 340–383.
  • 2013 “The Liṅgodbhava myth in early Śaiva sources”. In: Puṣpikā: Tracing Ancient India Through Texts and Traditions. Vol. 1. Oxbow Books Press, Oxford, pp. 241–263.
  • May 2001:  On May 1, 2001, I was appointed as of the three editors of Nepalese Academic Magazine Aruṇodaya, published from Kathmandu.
  • 10/2001—12/2002    From October 2001 to December 2002 I worked as Cultural Columnist for a Nepalese National daily newspaper, Nayā Saḍak Dainik, published in Kathmandu, Nepal.


He has taught advanced students following courses (1) the Kāvyādarśa by Daṇḍin, together with the Laghusiddhāntakaumudī by Varadarājācārya at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (Kathmandu); (2) The Bodhicaryāvatāra by Śāntideva at the Lumbini Buddhist University (Nepal); (3) Śaṅkara’s commentary on Kaṭha, Taittirīya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka and the Chāndogyopaniṣads; (4) Śaṅkara’s commentary on the Bhagavadgītā; (5) Rāmānujācārya’s commentary on the same; (6) Bhāruci’s Manuśāstravivaraṇa, a commentary on the Manusmṛti at Leiden; I taught (7) an “Introduction to ‘Hinduism’ with special emphasis on the contrast between ascetic and non-ascetic traditions” at Loyola (New Orleans, USA); I also taught (8) a course on “Interactions between Buddhism and Hinduism” based on primary literature at the Lumbini Buddhist University (Nepal).


He has taught following texts for intermediate students (1) Kāvya, i.e. the Kādambarīkathāsāra of Abhinanda, the Raghuvaṃśa of Kālidāsa; (2) Śaiva Tantra (Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā); (3) Purāṇa (Viṣnupurāṇa); (4) Upaniṣads (Kaṭha, Taittirīya and Bṛhadāraṇyaka); (5) the Hitopadeśa as well as the ‘Nala and Damayantī story’ as given in Lanman’s Sanskrit-Reader at Leiden University (Netherlands); the Buddhacaritam by Aśvaghoṣa (Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kathmandu); the Bodhicaryāvatāra by Śāntarakṣita (Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal).


He has taught  ‘beginner-to-intermediary-courses’ at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (Kathmandu), the other at EFEO (Pondichéry), and  an “Introduction to Buddhism” based on a collection of secondary literature at the Lumbini Buddhist University (Nepal).

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka