Maya Burger (elected 2017)

Maya Burger is Professor of Indian Studies at the Department of Languages and Civilizations of South India at the University of Lausanne since 2009. Earlier (1995-2008), she was Professor in the Comparative History of Religions at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in the same university. Maya Burger has been President of the Swiss Society for the Study of Religions between 2004 and 2007 and Co-president between 2007 and 2009.

She is a member of the Swiss-Asia Society and of the Study group of pre-modern literature in North India. Most importantly for us, she has been President of the EASR between 2008 and 2013. She is also an active member of the IAHR and a member of the editorial board for the IAHR Books Series, for the Etudes Asiatiques series in France, and she has been Book Review Editor for the international journal Numen  (Brill) between 2004 and 2009.

Within her many interests, her research focus particularly on yoga and bhakti. She has studied the history of yoga, from its indigenous origins to its cross-cultural development under new forms. She has worked on the various aspects of yoga in the pre-modern period of India. The exchange processes between India and Europe are part of her investigations, around central figures of interaction.

In the context of Hinduism, bhakti refers to devotion to, and love for, a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. In the field of bhakti, Maya Burger has studied source texts in pre-modern idioms and has worked on the relation between bhakti and yoga. More generally, her research concerns the history of ideas  from pre-modern to modern thinkers and yogis.

The interactions and exchanges between India and Europe constitute a general historical and conceptual frame of reference. In Switzerland, in the frame of a project funded by the Swiss National Foundation (FNS), a group of scholars investigates the relations between missionaries, travelers and translators between India and Switzerland.

In 1999 she published with Peter Schreiner The perception of the elements in the Hindu tradition. In 2006 she published with Claude Calame Comparer les comparatismes. Perspectives sur l’histoire et les sciences des religions. She also edited the proceedings of the following conferences: Rêves : visions révélatrices. Réception des songes en contexte religieux, Studia religiosa Helvetica, Berne, 2003 ; India in translation through Indi literature: a plurality of voices, Peter Lang, 2010; and Religions in play: games, rituals and virtual words, Zurich, 2012.

Maya Burger is a great scholar in many fields: comparative history of religions, religions of India, Indian languages, history of yoga. She is an eminent representative of the Swiss school of history of religions. For these reasons she deserves to be a Honorary Life Member of the EASR.