Sravana Borkataky-Varma

Sravana Borkataky-Varma

Sravana Borkataky-Varma

Historian, educator and social entrepreneur

Sravana Borkataky-Varma is a historian, educator and social entrepreneur. As a historian, she studies Indian religions focusing on esoteric rituals, gender and bodies, particularly in Hindu Śākta traditions (Goddess Tantra). As an educator, she is an instructional assistant professor at the University of Houston. At present, she is a Center for the Study of World Religions fellow at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University. In the past, she has taught at Harvard University, the University of North Carolina- Wilmington, the University of Montana and Rice University.

Sravana is currently working on four book projects, which are in various stages of production: Divinized Divas: Superwomen, Wives, Hijās in Hindu Śākta Tantra, The Serpent's Tale: Kuṇḍalinī and the History of an Experience, Living Folk Religions, and Religious Responses to the Pandemic & Crises: Isolation, Survival, and #Covidchaos.

As a social entrepreneur, she is the co-founder of a nonprofit, Lumen Tree Portal. Sravana invests in building communities with individuals from various faith backgrounds who believe in kindness, compassion and fulfillment. She is a Board of Trustee member for Esalen Institute and serves as an Advisory Board member for Compassionate Houston.

Imaginal Siddhis, Engines of Insight

Siddhis are common topics in tantras and among tantra practitioners. A siddhi is a (super)natural power that provides special abilities to reveal the hidden, like the past, past lives, or even communicate with departed souls, much as we see with Western psychics and mediums. Such revelations arise from the imaginal, the active imagination, as proposed by philosopher, theologian, and Iranologist Henry Corbin (1903-1978). According to Corbin, these imagined analogies, symbols, and images reveal, veil, and confer a sacred world; imagination is the engine for revelatory insights. Siddhi experiences reported by field informants and Borkataky-Varma’s own experiences as an initiate show a phenomenology where Corbin’s imaginal is the conduit for siddhis, and understanding the imaginal helps lift the mysterious veils on siddhis.