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If you’re going to teach a broadly themed survey course, you’ll probably need to assign some readings. One option is to assemble one of those photocopied course readers, full of excerpts taken from different sources. However, what you gain in flexibility may be sacrificed in coherence of presentation. A textbook produced by a single author might be more nicely packaged for student consumption, but then, how many different things can one author be an expert in? The best of both approaches would be found in a single-volume collection of essays, written by experts in their respective fields, newly commissioned for the volume in question, and all presented according to a shared format.

Karen Pechilis and Selva J. Raj‘s South Asian Religions: Tradition and Today (Routledge, 2012) provides just such a collection, designed with both faculty and students in mind. Contributors to the book include Vasudha Narayanan, M. Whitney Kelting, Sunil Goonasekera, Nathan Katz, M. Thomas Thangaraj, Karen G. Ruffle, Joseph Marianus Kujur, and Pashaura Singh.

In this interview, editor Karen Pechilis discusses her decisions behind the form and content of the book, shares her experiences using the book in one of her own classes, and unexpectedly turns the tables on the interviewer regarding how he came to be interested in such things.

This podcast is dedicated to the memory of Selva J. Raj.

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