SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Ms Avni Chag

BA (SOAS) MPhil (University of Oxford)
  • Teaching
  • Research


CHAG Avni - SAS PHD IMG 485 186 56
Ms Avni Chag
Email address:
Thesis title:
Reconfiguring Scripture and Establishing a Sampradāya: The compositional history of the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya’s redacted Śikṣāpatrī (working title)
Year of Study:
3rd year (part-time equivalent)
Internal Supervisors


Avni started working on her doctoral thesis in September 2014, after completing her MPhil in Classical Indian Religion at Oxford and a BA in the Study of Religions at SOAS. Her MPhil dissertation focused on an unpublished chapter from the Bhāradvāja Saṃhitā, which outlined a specific Vaiṣṇava dikṣā tradition practiced in western and southern parts of India.

Avni has successfully launched a national new Sanskrit initiative, the Sanskrit Reading Room; and has provided research assistance to a BBC director and producer for BBC documentaries on Religion. She worked at the British Museum as a Community Partnerships Coordinator and currently works at the Wellcome Institute to curate their large collection of Indic manuscripts.

PhD Research

In her current PhD project, Avni is employing philological and historical methods to investigate the background of a particular Svāminārāyaṇa text, the Śikṣāpatrī. By producing an edition that charts the text’s historical redaction, her research intends to offers new insight into the role scriptural and literary production and redaction plays in the institutionalisation of a new sampradāya.


  • "Manuscript as Relic: The Svāminārāyaṇa Śikṣāpattrī Manuscript in the Oxford Bodleian Library"’, in The Bodleian Library Record.
  • 2017 "Monier Monier-Williams" for The Encylopedia of Indian Religions. Hinduism and Tribal Religions with Springer


  • 'The Misattributed ‘Holy Relic’ in the Oxford Libraries: The Svāminārāyaṇa Śikṣāpatrī Manuscript Sacralized on Erroneous Grounds'. Paper presented at the 25th European Conference on South Asian Studies (ECSAS), at EHESS, Paris, France 24-27 July 2018
  • 'Reconfiguring Scripture: The Vaiṣṇava nuances of the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya’s redacted Śikṣāpatrī'. Paper presented at the 17th World Sanskrit Conference, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver 9-13 July 2018
  • 'The Apocryphal Making of a Religious Relic: Problematising the History ascribed to the Śikṣāpatrī Manuscript in the Bodleian Library'. Paper presented at the 42nd Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, hosted by The Spalding Trust, at The University of Oxford, 7-9 April 2017
  • 'The Making of a Scripture: The Socio-Religious Context of the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya’s Śikṣāpatrī'. Paper presented at the 42nd Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, hosted by The Spalding Trust, at The University of Oxford, 7-9 April 2017
  • 'On the different recensions of the Śikṣāpatrī of the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya'. Paper presented at the 8th International Indology Graduate Research Symposium, hosted by Ludwig Maxmillans University, Munich, Germany, 29-30 October 2016.
  • 'Strategies of Sectarian Institutionalisation and Survival: Genealogy and Textual Emendation in the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya', PhD project summary. Paper presented at the 10th European PhD workshop in South Asian Studies, hosted by The European Association for South Asian Studies in collaboration with The Centre for International Studies, University Institute of Lisbon, held in Lisbon, Portugal,17-19 June 2016.
  • Keynote Presentation: 'Hinduism on the Move: The Impact of Migration on the Hindu Community in Great Britain'. Paper presented at Migration, Faith, & Action: Shifting the Discourse Conference, hosted by The Las Casas Institute & The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, at The University of Oxford, 8-9 May 2014.
  • 'The Gujaratisation of the Śikṣāpatrī: Theorising and Chronicling the Vernacularisation of a Popular Sectarian Text'. Paper presented at (Re)Defining Gujarati Identity Conference, hosted by Gujarat Studies Association Biennial Conference, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, 19-20 February 2014.


  • British Association for South Asian Studies
  • European Association for South Asian Studies
  • Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
  • Gujarat Studies Association
  • The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities



  • Codicology
  • Manuscript study
  • Vaiṣṇavism
  • Swaminarayan Hinduism
  • Hinduism
  • Vedanta
  • Dharmaśāstra
  • Textual Studies
  • Sanskrit
  • Modern Religions of South Asia and Indology