Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
asianstudies masthead
Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Donald R Davis

Associate Professor PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-7921
  • Office: WCH 4.114
  • Office Hours: FALL 2014: ON LEAVE
  • Campus Mail Code: G9300

Biography

Don Davis came to the University of Texas at Austin in 2013, having worked previously at Bucknell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His doctoral research centered on the interaction of law and religion in medieval India, for which he used records from the regional language of Malayalam to situate notoriously ahistorical normative texts in Sanskrit.  The result was a dissertation and then a book entitled The Boundaries of Hindu Law: Tradition, Custom, and Politics in Medieval Kerala (2004).  He has also published The Train that Had Wings (2005), a collection of translated short stories by the Malayalam writer M. Mukundan.  His latest book is called The Spirit of Hindu Law (2010) and provides a conceptual overview of the Hindu perspective on law and how it can relate to modern questions of policy, ethics, and religion. 

Davis's current research considers the practice of Hindu law in historical perspective, using materials beyond the Dharmaśāstra texts to further contextualize the development of Hindu law from the ancient to the modern period. 

 

Interests

Sanskrit; Dharmaśāstra; Law and Religion; Medieval India; Malayalam

ANS 340 • Jainism: Relig Of Non-Violence

30985 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm UTC 4.134
(also listed as R S 341 )
show description

As one of the world’s oldest religions, Jainism has often been described as an atheistic soteriology, or method of personal salvation alone.  The intense religious, especially ascetic, discipline required of Jain monks and nuns is the most visible symbol of Jainism.  The cardinal virtue in this ascetic regimen is ahiṃsā, or non-violence, which characterizes every action performed by Jain monks and nuns and is held as an ideal for Jain laypeople as well.

Given the emphasis on ascetic practice in Jainism, one may not expect many lay Jains to be merchants who own thriving trading businesses in some of India’s largest cities.  The contrast, and seeming contradiction, between ascetic ideals and prosperous lives within the theological, ritual, and social frameworks of Jainism will be the principal subject of this course.  The early focus will be on Jain theology and philosophy, i.e. those concepts and world-views that Jain leaders have expounded and idealized since the founding of the tradition in the 5th century BC.  The second part of the course will shift attention away from the conceptual and theological to the practical and ritual aspects of Jain life in India.  In the end, you will have a solid working knowledge of the basic concepts of Jainism as well as a thorough understanding of everyday life in Jain communities.

SAN 330 • Buddhist And Jain Sanskrit

31895 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 900am-1000am PAR 210
(also listed as SAN 384S )
show description

In this course, selections from important texts of Buddhist and Jain traditions will provide students with an exposure both to the Sanskrit vocabulary and style of these traditions and to their conceptual, doctrinal, and narrative foundations.  Textual genres focused, first, on systematic expositions of religious doctrine (śāstra, darśana) and, second, on narrative theologies (kathā, carita, avadāna) will serve as two different windows on these traditions.  This twofold approach will also facilitate comparison between the two religious traditions and their respective manners of expressing religious ideas and practice.

Readings for each day are tentatively assigned in the course schedule below. Students will prepare an appropriate amount of text for each class by analyzing the grammar, highlighting key concepts, and drafting a translation. Over time, the style of these genres will become more natural.  By the end of the course, students will be able to read on their own other comparable stories and doctrinal texts in Sanskrit from these and other religious traditions.

SAN 384S • Buddhist And Jain Sanskrit

31910 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 900am-1000am PAR 210
(also listed as SAN 330 )
show description

In this course, selections from important texts of Buddhist and Jain traditions will provide students with an exposure both to the Sanskrit vocabulary and style of these traditions and to their conceptual, doctrinal, and narrative foundations.  Textual genres focused, first, on systematic expositions of religious doctrine (śāstra, darśana) and, second, on narrative theologies (kathā, carita, avadāna) will serve as two different windows on these traditions.  This twofold approach will also facilitate comparison between the two religious traditions and their respective manners of expressing religious ideas and practice.

Readings for each day are tentatively assigned in the course schedule below. Students will prepare an appropriate amount of text for each class by analyzing the grammar, highlighting key concepts, and drafting a translation. Over time, the style of these genres will become more natural.  By the end of the course, students will be able to read on their own other comparable stories and doctrinal texts in Sanskrit from these and other religious traditions.

ANS 379 • Ethics & Scholarship In Asia

32230 • Spring 2014
Meets W 300pm-600pm CLA 0.108
show description

May be repeated for credit when topics vary.  Asian Studies 378 and 379 may not both be counted.  Prerequisite: For Asian studies and Asian cultures and languages majors, twelve semester hours of upper-division coursework in Asian studies or Asian languages; for others, upper-division standing.

SAN 384S • Intro To Purva-Mimamsa

33160 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ B0.302
show description

Study of various aspects and periods of Sanskrit language and culture.  Specific offerings are listed in the Course Schedule.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing; and Sanskrit 325L, 330, or the equivalent, or consent of instructor.

ANS 340 • Hist Of Hindu Relig Traditn

31799 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BUR 216
(also listed as ANT 324L, HIS 364G, R S 321 )
show description

This course examines the principal themes of traditional Hinduism, the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent.  It gives special attention to the historical development of the tradition and its relation to social and cultural life in India.  To the extent possible, the course will examine different forms of religious expression created within India.  These include written texts which have been significant in the Hindu tradition, but they also comprise rituals that have been central to religious life, patterns of social action that embody Hindu values, and images and architecture that display the form and powers of the world.

 

Rāmāyaṇa Colloquium

In the interest of providing additional experience with and exposure to Sanskrit literature for students, staff, and faculty at UT, we have organized an informal Sanskrit reading group that will meet regularly (once per week) to read one of the two classical epics of India, the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki.   The main purpose of the group is simply to read together a great and beautiful text in the original.  We use a bilingual edition so that anyone, including those with little or no Sanskrit, can participate, if desired, but we go through the original text.  All Sanskrit students, as well as the Sanskrit-curious, are invited to join us, because the second goal for the group will be to develop and strengthen the community of scholars and students interested in Sanskrit, Indian literature, and classical India.  We think that means everybody and hope you find time to join us regularly or from time to time.

As A.K. Ramanujan famously wrote, "In India and Southeast Asia, no one ever reads the Rāmāyaṇa or the Mahābhārata for the first time.  The stories are there, 'always already.'" ("Three Hundred Rāmāyaṇas," in Many Rāmāyaṇas, ed. Paula Richman, California, 1991, p.46).  Therefore, everyone should feel free to come at any time, no preparation required, and pick up the reading wherever we happen to be.  We are using the Clay Sanskrit Library edition, in this case the Ayodhyā Book translated by Sheldon Pollock.  If you need the reading or have other questions, please contact Don Davis.

The group meets most Fridays from 1-2pm during terms in the Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118.

NEXT MEETING DATE: November 21, 2014

WHERE WE ARE AT: Ayodhyā 9.28

PDF of Chapters 6-22 from the Bilingual Clay Sanskrit Library edition (6.6 MB)

PDF of the Entire Ayodhyākāṇḍa in Devanāgarī with the commentary of Govindarāja

 

bottom border