John Stratton Hawley, known as Jack, specializes in the devotional traditions of North India. He was educated at Amherst College (European History, B.A. 1963), Union Theological Seminary (Hebrew Bible, M.Div. 1966), and Harvard University (Comparative Religion, Hinduism, 1977). He has taught at Barnard and Columbia since 1986.
Hawley has written or edited sixteen books and contributed articles to numerous journals. Several of his books ("At Play with Krishna"; "Krishna, the Butter Thief"; "Sur Das: Poet, Singer, Saint; The Divine Consort") focus especially on the worship of Krishna and his consort Radha. Others ("Songs of the Saints of India," "Three Bhakti Voices," and the edited volumes "The Life of Hinduism, Sati: The Blessing and the Curse," and "Devi: Goddesses of India") take a broader view, exploring themes in Hindu poetry and hagiography and in modern Hindu religion. Several edited volumes are comparative: one centers on religious exemplitude ("Saints and Virtues"), another on "Fundamentalism and Gender" and a recent one (with Kimberley Patton) on "Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination."
Hawley’s latest published book on devotional poetry in India is "The Memory of Love: Surdas Sings to Krishna." It contains selections from his largest and longest-standing work, "Sur’s Ocean" (forthcoming). In the past several years, Hawley has published "Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in Their Time and Ours" and a collection of essays by the late D. Dennis Hudson ("Krishna’s Mandala: Bhagavata Religion and Beyond"). He has also recently edited (with Vasudha Narayanan) a volume entitled "The Life of Hinduism."
Hawley’s current major project—a book called "India’s Real Religion: The Idea of the Bhakti Movement"—is devoted to deconstructing and reconstructing one of the principal ways in which Indians have told their religious history. Its focus is bhakti: the religion of song, of radical engagement, and of the heart.
Hawley has served as director of Columbia University’s South Asian Institute and has received multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. He has also been a Guggenheim Fellow. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter, to whom he often laments that his Hindi is not as good as it should be.