Madhu Khanna

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Madhu Khanna is an Indian people historian of religion and noted Tantric scholar based in Delhi. At present, she is Distinguished Fellow (2013–2014) in Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. Until recently, she was Director for the Centre for the Study of Comparative Religion and Civilizations, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is at present Visiting Professor of Indic Religion at the same Centre, where she teaches interdisciplinary courses in Hindu Studies.[citation needed] She has several books and exhibition catalogues to her credit and has contributed to three national projects, as well as several research projects for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).[1]


She obtained her PhD in Indology/Religious Studies from the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, in 1986. Her PhD thesis was on The Concept and Liturgy of the Sricakra based on Sivananda's Trilogy, under the supervision of Professor Alexis Sanderson, Ethics and Religion, All Souls College, University of Oxford. Her subject was Esoteric Hinduism, with special reference to Hindu Tantra and Goddess Traditions. Her research has shown that the origins of Sri Vidya as a central doctrine of Shaktism were in Kashmir.[citation needed]


She has been Associate Professor (Religious/Indic studies) at the IGNCA, where she researched and organized all major, inter-disciplinary research projects and exhibitions, including Prakriti: Man in Harmony with the Elements, a cross-cultural, inter-disciplinary project; Rta: Cosmic Order & Chaos, a cross-cultural seminar which explored the multi-faceted concept of Rta, Cosmic Order, traceable to the Vedas which pervades all aspects of life, the natural order, the human world, the social and the moral worlds, as well as the arts; and Rupa-Pratirupa: Man, Mind & Mask, to name a few. She spearheaded Narivada: Gender, Culture & Civilization Network of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Delhi.[2] Narivada is a pioneer project that revisions and contextualizes women's cultural resources and knowledge systems in South Asia as an integral element in Gender Studies.[3]

She has also been involved with three research-based, multi-media-exhibition projects of national interest in collaboration with the Sacred World Foundation,[4] New Delhi: Planet Health: Green Consciousness in Ayurveda and Yoga, A Multimedia Exhibit (2010), her most recent project, was commissioned by Ayush, Ministry of Health. As Honorary Director for Content Research, Documentation and Production, she produced 150 documentary videos on Indian health heritage, namely Ayurveda and yoga. The project involved interviews with scholars, masters of yoga and experts in Ayurveda. Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum Exhibit (2002), where she produced 200 documentary videos on the life and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The videos are exhibited in 51 interactive installations permanently housed in the memorial Gandhi Smriti, Birla House, New Delhi, where the Mahatma was assassinated. The Mahavira Mahatma Award was conferred upon Madhu Khanna by the Times Foundation, New Delhi, in 2005 for her work on this project. The Crossing Project: Living, Dying and Transformation in Benaras (2002) was sponsored by Xerox PARC, Palo Alto Research Center, the world's leading provider of personal computing and innovative research in digital document solutions. She was conferred the Excellence in Research certificate by Xerox PARC for this project. The Crossing Project won the following awards: Winner Prix Arts Electronica, Linz, Austria, 2002; Winner ID Magazine Gold Prize, Interactive Review, New York, 2002; Jury's Recommendation, CG Arts Festival, Japan, 2002. She is the President and Founding Member of the Tantra Foundation in New Delhi ( She recently initiated an ecological project, Shri Kun – A Rural Centre for Eco Heritage in Bamunara village, Burdwan, West Bengal, to create a herbarium of traditional plants based on ancient Hindu scriptures to promote programmes for ecological sustainability.[5]


  • 2005: Mahavir Mahatma Award conferred by Times Foundation, New Delhi, for the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum Exhibit at the Gandhi Smriti, New Delhi (joint award with Sacred World Foundation).
  • 2002: Excellence in Research certificate by Xerox PARC, Palo Alto, for The Crossing Project: Living, Dying and Transformation in Benaras
  • 1991–1993: The Homi Bhabha Fellowship Award for advanced research by the Homi Bhabha Fellowships Council, Bombay

Selected works[edit]


  • The Sricakra as Goddess Tripurasundari: History, Symbol & Ritual. Madhu Khanna. Forthcoming 2014–2015.
  • Saktapramodah of Deva Nandan Singh. Edited with introduction in English by Madhu Khanna. Published in collaboration with Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and Tantra Foundation. D.K. Printworld, New Delhi, 2013. ISBN 978-81-246-0689-6.
  • Asian Perspectives on the World’s Religions after 11 September. Arvind Sharma and Madhu Khanna (Editors). Praeger, ABC-CLIO, LLC, California, 2013. ISBN 978-0-313-37896-6, E ISBN 978-0-313-37897-3.
  • Thirty Minor Upanisadas. Translated by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar. Edited by Madhu Khanna. Tantra Foundation, New Delhi, 2011. ISBN 81208-1565-3.
  • The Subtle Body: An Illuminated Tantric Scroll. Sarabhai Foundation, Ahmedabad, 2005. ISBN 8186980261.
  • Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Madhu Khanna. Thames and Hudson, 1994. Inner Traditions, 1997 (Reprint), 2003 (Reprint). ISBN 978-0-89281-132-8. German edition: Yantra: Das Grosse Yantra-Buch – Symbol der Kosmischen Einheit, Aurum Verlag, Freiburg, 1980. ISBN 978-3-591-08138-2. Italian edition: Yanta: Il Simbolo Tantrico dell'Unita Cosmica, Edizioni Mediterranee, Milan, 2002. ISBN 88-272-1472-0.
  • Rta, The Cosmic Order. Edited by Madhu Khanna. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts & D.K. Printworld, New Delhi, 2004. ISBN 8124602522.
  • Art, the Integral Vision: A Volume of Essays in Felicitation of Kapila Vatsyayan. Kapila Vatsyayan, Baidyanath Saraswati, S C Malik, & Madhu Khanna. DK Printworld. 1995.
  • The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual. Ajit Mookerjee & Madhu Khanna. Thames and Hudson, 1977 (Reprint). 1989 (Reprint), 1993 (Reprint), 1994 (Reprint), 1996 (Reprint). ISBN 0-500-27088-0. French edition: La voie du Tantra: Art, Science, Rituel. Seuil, Paris, 1978; 2004 (Reprint). German edition: Die Welt des Tantra in Bild und Deutung. Otto Wilehelm Berth Verlag, Munich, 1978; 1987 (Reprint). ISBN 978-3-502-65471-1. Danish edition: Forlaget Rhodes, Copenhagen, 1979. ISBN 87-74-96-6618.

Exhibition catalogues[edit]

  • The Crossing Project: Living, Dying and Transformation in Banaras. Co-author. Sacred World Foundation, New Delhi and San Francisco, 2002.
  • An Exhibition on Tantra Art Collection by Shinsocha, Tokyo. Contributor.
  • Man & Mask: Rupa-Pratirupa: An Exhibition from the IGNCA Collection of Masks. Editor. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1998.
  • Rta-Ritu: Cosmic Order and Cycle of Seasons. Editor. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1996.
  • Prakriti: Man in Harmony with the Elements. Editor. Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 1994.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]