Lavanya Vemsani

Title: Professor

Subject Area: History and Religious Studies


Lavanya Vemsani, award winning scholar and professor of History specializing in Indian History and Religions, is Professor of History in the department of Social Sciences at Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio. She holds two doctorates in the subjects of Religious Studies (McMaster University) and History (University of Hyderabad). She was awarded South Asia Council of the Canadian Asian Studies Association's (SACA/CASA) Best Thesis Honorable Mention prize for her Ph.D. thesis at McMaster University.

Her research and teaching interests are varied, and multifold. She researches and publishes on subjects of ancient history and religions as well as current history of India. Her books include Modern Hinduism in Text and Context; Krishna in History, Thought, and Culture: Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names; Hindu and Jain Mythology of Balarama. She is the Editor-in-Chief of American Journal of Indic Studies; Managing Editor of International Journal of Indic Studies and Editorial and Review Board Member of Air Force Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs as well as Canadian Journal of History. She is current Vice-President and President-Elect of Ohio Academy of History (2018-2020).


Ph.D. (Religious Studies) McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), 2004 Balarama: Change and Continuity in an Indian Cult

Ph.D. (History) University of Hyderabad (Hyderabad, India) Settlement Patterns in Andhra Pradesh up to AD 500

M.Phil (History) University of Hyderabad (Hyderabad, India) Inscriptions of Karimnagar District: Examination of Place Names, Personal Names and Orthography

Primary Courses

HIST 2430 - World History I

HIST 2440 - World History II

HIST 3400 - History of Hinduism

HIST 3410 - East Asian History

HIST 3420 - History of Buddhism and Jainism

HIST 3415 - Japan in the Global World

HIST 3430 - Ancient Indian Culture

HIST 3432 - Gandhi and Modern India

HIST 3435 - India in the Global World

HIST 4474 - History and Practice of Nonviolence


Fluent English, classical Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, native Telugu and Hindi, reading knowledge of German, French, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.


Hindu and Jain Mythology of Balarāma. 3 editions, Lewiston, NY, US; Queenston, ON, CA; Lampeter, UK: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006. 


"Genetic Evidence Disproves Aryan Migration/Invasion Theories Light of Small-Statured Human Groups of the Indian Ocean Region," Nalini Rao Ed. Sindhu Saraswathi Civilization: A Reappraisal," DK Print World and Nalanda International: LA, USA, 2014.

"The Himalayas in the Economic, Social and Military Conflict in Asia,"Matthew J. Webb & Albert Wijeweera (eds.). Political Economy and Conflict in South Asia, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

"Sita: Feminine as Nature in the story of Ramayana," Journal of Vaishnava Studies, Fall 2011: 29-47.

"Worms and the Body in India (Examination of Inscriptions and Hindu literary Traditions)," Ed. Brenda Gardenour, The Wormy Corpus: Worms, Parasites and the Body in Religion and Culture, East and West, PeterLang, 2011: 17-41.

"Narasimha, the Supreme Deity of Andhra Pradesh: Tradition and Innovation in Hinduism -An Examination of Local mythology, Folk Stories and Popular Culture." Journal of Contemporary Religion Vol.24. No. 1, January, 2009: 35-52.

Review Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals

"Alternative Idea of India: Tagore and Vivekananda. By Gangeya Mukherji. London, New York, Delhi: Routledge, 2011." Journal of Hindu Studies 2015;01-2.

"Annette Burton, Empire in Question: Reading, Writing and Teaching British Imperialism," Itinerario. Jan2012, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p118-120. 3p.

"Alessandra Avanzini Ed. A Port in Arabia Between Rome and the Indian Ocean (3rd C BC-5 C AD). L'Erma Brentschneider, Rome, 2008" Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, 2012.

"Gijsbert Oonk, The Karimjee Jivanjee Family: Merchant Princes of East Africa 1800-2000. Pallas Publications, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2009." Itinarario, 04/01/2011, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p124-125.

Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes, eds. Gurus in North America. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005. vii + 236 p Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 2006 35: 586.

Encyclopedia Articles

Editor (South Asia Area), Encyclopedia of Monsters in World Film and Literature, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Surrey UK, 2011.

"Kushans," "Hill Reddies," "Mongols of Afghanistan," "Iran," "Soara," Pakche," Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia, Ed. Steven, L. Danver, M.E. Sharpe/Mesa Verde Publishing, 2012.

"Jute," Incense," Products that Changed the World, Heather Steels ed. Facts on File Inc.: New York, 2012.

"Indus Valley," "Mauryas," "Krishna," "Cities and Urban Culture," Children's lives in Premodern India," Cultural Sociology of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Sage Publications, 2012.

"Hinduism," "Hyderabad," "Jainism," "Telangana," "Romila Thapar," India Today Encyclopedia, Vols. 2, Eds. Arnold P. Kaminsky, Roger Long, Santa Barabara, USA: ABC-Clio, 2012: 315-322; 336-338; 371-373; 683-684; 695-696.

"Sanskrit Plays." Ed. Kevin McGeough. World History Encyclopedia Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, Ca, US: ABC-Clio, 2009:

"Cities in Early Medieval India." Ed. Wilfred Bisson. World History Encyclopedia Vol. 3. Santa Barbara, Ca, US: ABC-Clio, 2009:

"Hinduism." "Jainism." Encyclopeadia of Love, Sex and Courtship Vol.2 Medieval Era, Ed. William E. Burns,Westport, Connecticut, London: Greenwood Press, 2007: 92-93; 118-19.

"Naming Patterns in Early Medieval Andhra Pradesh," Proceedings of the Council for Social Sciences Research –Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSSR-CSIR) Conference, Ed. Dr. Balagangadhara Rao, Guntur (1999).

"Early Medieval Townships and Villages in Andhra Pradesh," Proceedings of Andhra Pradesh History Congress (APHC1999).

Conferences: Academic Research Paper Presentations

"Narasimha, No Boundaries: Evil and Good in Myth and Practice," Academy of American Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting, 20-23 November, 2015, Atlanta.

"Emergence of Geography as Race in a Multi Religious Country," Multi-religious Societies in world History, World History Panel, American Historical Association (AHA) Annual Meeting Jan 2-5, 2015, New York.

"Indians in Ohio: History, Religion and Culture," Mid Atlantic Region- Association of Asian Studies (MAR-AAS), Hofstra University, 18-21 October, 2014.

"Geography as Race in Multi-religious Country: Tolerance and Persecution in Colonial and Post Colonial India," Regional Political Change," Sawyer Seminars, Imagining Alternative Modernities, at Ohio State University, October, 9-11, 2014.

"The Feminine and the Forest in Hindu Religion: An Examination of the Mahabharata, (AAR-Midwest) American Academy of Religion, Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, April, 12-13, 2013.

Co-Chair, South and East Asia Panel, American Academy of religion-Mid Atlantic Region (AAR-MAR), Marriot, New Brunswick, New Jersey, March 15-16, 2012.

"Genetic Evidence Disproves Aryan Migration/Invasion theories in the light of Small Statured Human Groups of the Indian Ocean Region," October 21-23, 2011, Mid-Atlantic Region Association of Asian Studies (MARAAS), Princeton University, NJ.

"Himalayan Ecologies: An Environmental Outlook," Celebration of Scholarship, Shawnee State University, April 5-7, 2011.

"Multiple Heads, Arms, and Limbs among the Demonic and Deadly in the Classical Literatures of India: An Examination of the Concept of Evil and Sin" 32 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), March 16-20, 2011, Airport Marriotte, Orlando, FL.

"Early Medieval Urban Centers in the Godavari Basin (600 C.E-1300 C.E), 38th Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Region Association of Asian Studies (MARAAS), Oct 22-23, 2010, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.

Chair, Religion in India Section, American Academy of Religion-Mid Atlantic region (AARMAR), March 13-15, 2010, The Radisson Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ.

"1968 across the Subcontinent: Rising Political Movements and Regionalism in India in the Late 1960s." American History Association (AHA), Jan 5-10, 2010, Hotel Marriotte, San Diego, CA.

"Embryonic Narratives and Motherhood in Hinduism," Mid-Atlantic Region Association of Asian Studies (MARAAS), Oct 27-29, 2009, Villanova University, Villanova, PN.

Chair, Religion in India Section, American Academy of Religion-Mid Atlantic region (AARMAR), March 13-15, 2009, The Radisson Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ.

"Worms and the Body in Hinduism," American Academy of Religion- Mid Atlantic Region (AAR-MAR), March 12-15, 2008, The Radission Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ. And Chair of the Quran panel.

"Symbolism of forest and Exile: Deviant women in Hindu mythology and Folk Stories." Mid-Atlantic region Association of Asian Studies (MARAAS), October 24-26, 2008, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.

"Nation in a state of rite of passage: Novel as ritual in Ravindranath Tagore's Gora." Mid Atlantic Regional Association of Asian Studies Conference (MARAAS). Oct. 26-27, 2007, University of Maryland, Maryland.

"Narasimha in the Local Traditions of Andhra Pradesh." American Academy of Religion-Eastern International Region (AAR-EIR), May 4-5, 2007. University of Waterloo, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, Canada.

"Personal Accounts: Teaching tools or teaching traps," CHEA/ACHE- HES joint Bienniel Conference, Oct 26-28, 2006, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

"Death of Balarama in Hindu and Jain Texts." Eastern International Region- American Academy of Religion Conference (EIRAAR), May, 5-6, 2006, Quebec University, Quebec City, Canada.

"Fetal Narratives in Hinduism and Jainism." Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, Annual Conference, May 28-29, 2006, York University, York, Ontario, Canada.

"Balarama in the story of Dhenuka: Change and Continuity," Eastern International American Association of Religion Conference (EIRAAR), May 7-9, 2005, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

"Birth Story of Balarama: Transfer and transformation," in the panel on Texts, transformation and change, Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (CSSR), May 29-30, 2005, London, Ontario, Canada.