Aditya Harchand

Aditya Harchand
Cohort Year: 2022
Subject Area: Tamil
Research Interests: Tamil language and literature, South India and Sri Lanka, poetics and aesthetics, philology, translation, history of religions, Tamil Islam, literary anthropology, sociolinguistics.


My proposed project is a comparative study of two Tamil verse works from two different centuries and religious traditions. The later text, the seventeenth-century Cīṟāppurāṇam of Umaṟuppulavar, is a prophetic biography of Muḥammad which is supposedly based on the earlier text, the twelfth-century Rāmāyaṇam of Kampaṉ. I question Umaṟuppulavar’s literary obsession with the Rāmāyaṇam, taking special interest in his treatment of Kampaṉ’s characteristic erotics. After Umaṟuppulavar, countless poets, in various Tamil genres, began writing panegyrics and poetic biographies of Muḥammad. I wish to explore the literary networks between these related texts and entertain the idea that the Cīṟāppurāṇam might represent a turning point in the canonization and “indigenization” of Tamil Islam.

I am also interested by poetry representative of the Tamil liberation movement in northern Sri Lanka. As I read more works within this subcorpus, I think about how they might fit into the larger corpus of Tamil poetry, and, more importantly, how we might study the literary practices of reading, performing, and sharing this poetry in both Sri Lanka and diaspora today. I also think about the relationship between this poetry and Eelam Tamil conceptions of language; that is, what role does poetry reflecting the ethnically divisive Sri Lankan Civil War (1983–2009) play in engendering certain language ideologies and/or
constructing a linguistic identity with respect to Tamil?

My languages of research include Tamil, Malayalam, Persian, Urdu, Classical Arabic, and French. My native languages are Hindi, Panjabi, Dogri, and Marathi.

Photo by Bonatto Photography, edited by Abbas Tayebali


M.A., History of Religions, The University of Chicago Divinity School, 2022

B.Arts Sc., Arts & Science and Religious Studies, McMaster University, 2020

Teaching Experience

  • Buddha Then and Now: Transformations from Amaravati to Anuradhapura (Course Assistant, Winter 2021, The University of Chicago Divinity School)
  • Introduction to Buddhism (Teaching Assistant, Fall 2018 & Fall 2019, McMaster University)