DR. RUFIN JAMEY SAUL

LECTURER

Email:amey.sal@mahidol.ac.th

BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Rufin Jamey Saul (aka R. Jeremy Saul) is a lecturer in the College of Religious Studies at Mahidol University. After receiving a BA from Columbia University (East Asian Studies) and an MA at UC Berkeley (Asian Art and Archaeology), he completed his PhD (Asian Languages and Cultures) at the University of Michigan in December 2013. His teaching interests cover religions of South, Southeast, and East Asia from all historical periods, with an emphasis on popular culture, new religions, and paranormal events. His research extends to both South and Southeast Asia. Having stayed over sixteen years in Asian countries, he is fluent in Thai, Indonesian, and Hindi, and has intensively studied several other Asian languages as well. Dr. Saul is currently working on two book projects. For the first project, he is writing a book manuscript based on his PhD research on new religious movements in India. In one year of ethnographic fieldwork supported by a Fulbright-Hays fellowship, he investigated the recent rise of devotion to local manifestations of Hanuman and allied deities believed to perform miracles. Some deities that Dr. Saul studies have also become popular for presiding over exorcisms. Inasmuch as Hindu cosmology preordains that the world is now declining into immorality, which the Indian public perceives in global materialism and societal corruption, miracles assume a new importance as testimony of an authentic dharmic relationship that transcends elitism. He is also now pursuing fieldwork for a second book project in Thailand on the rise of devotion among Thais for Hindu deities mediated by charismatic healers. While brahmanical deities have been incorporated as adjunct figures within Buddhist doctrine since its start, in recent years many Thais have become more attracted to these deities for the magical benefits that they provide in their own right. In a time of much publicized scandals within established religion, these personal relationships of devotion seem to have increased resonance in everyday life. At the same time, Dr. Saul considers how overseas Indians in Thailand more often eschew healers and miracles in favor of ancestral heritage and Vedanta universalism. Dr. Saul has frequently presented papers at academic conferences and as an invited lecturer in educational settings. Recent articles include “When One Hanuman Is Not Another Hanuman: The Case of SalasarBalaji,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 21(1), Fall 2012: 171-186; “The Kali Yuga as the Era of Wealth-Pursuit: Perceptions of Patronage at a Hindu Shrine,” Nidan: An International Journal for the Study of Hinduism, 26(1), July 2014: 88-108; and “Danger and Devotion: Reflections on Hindu Ecology,” in Ethics, Ecology, and Religion, ed. Imtiyaz Yusuf, Bangkok, Thailand: Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Nov. 2015.