Dr. Laura Dunn’s Dharma Studies Reading Guide

For those looking to explore the world of Dharma studies, we’ve got lots of reading recommendations, courtesy of Dr. Laura Dunn. With primers for those looking for quick introductions to more comprehensive texts for those who want to deepen their knowledge, Dr. Dunn offers her suggestions for the best books, authors, and academics in the field.

You can find more of Dr. Dunn’s work on GTUx with her lecture “Dimensions of Hinduism” and blog post “Finding the Intersection Between Dharma Studies and Psychedelics.”


When delving into the world of Dharma studies, what books or texts would you recommend for someone wanting to learn more?

Gavin Flood’s book Introduction to Hinduism is a modern classic that I have assigned in many introductory courses on Hinduism. I would also recommend Veena Howard’s recent book Dharma: The Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh Traditions of India


What about books that are comprehensive, but not quite so dense?  

Arvind Sharma’s two books, Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction and A Guide to Hindu Spirituality, are also excellent primers. Anantanand Rambachan’s book Essays on Hindu Theology is also good for Christians seeking to engage with Hinduism.


What books on the subject are you currently reading right now?  

Sheila Batacharya and Yuk-Lin Wong’s Sharing Breath: Embodied Learning and Decolonization; Vine Deloria Jr.’s God Is Red: A Native View of Religion; Jonathan Tran’s Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism; and Contemplative Studies & Jainism: Meditation, Prayer, and Veneration, edited by Purushottama Bilimoria, Cogen Bohanec, and Rita Sherma.


Which authors or thought leaders on the subject do you like?  

Anantananda Rambachan – Hindu Theology

Rita D. Sherma – Hindu Ecotheology and Śākta Theology

Arvind Sharma – Hindu Theology

Christopher Chapple – Yoga Philosophy and Practice

Gavin Flood – Tantra and Yoga

Edwin Bryant – Yoga and Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Douglas Brooks – Tantric Śāktism and Śaivism

Sthaneswar Timalsina – Tantric Visual Culture and Trika Śaivism

David Shulman – Poetics and Imagination

Gerald Larson – Samkhya, Yoga, and so much more

Mark Dyczkowski – Tantra, Śāktism, and Śaivism

Alexis Sanderson – Tantra


Laura M. Dunn, Ph.D., is the director of the Master of Theological Studies program and the Writing Program at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University and faculty for the Center of Dharma Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where she teaches courses on non-dual Tantra, yoga studies, and Śāktism. She is the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Dharma Studies: Asian and Transcultural Religion, Philosophy, & Ethics, a peer-reviewed academic journal that employs theoretical and empirical methodologies for the intersubjective understanding of and critical-constructive reflections on Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions (Dharma Studies).


Drawing from her Native Hawaiian, Chinese, and Jewish background, Laura seeks to engage the complex ways in which globalization influences religion, education, and the arts. Her current research explores the ways in which embodied indigenous epistemologies converge and diverge with somatic practices such as yoga āsana and how these practices are used to recover identity in post- and Neo-colonial contexts.