Living Mantra Cover

Living Mantra- Mantra, Deity and Visionary Experience Today.

Contemporary Anthropology of Religion Series, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. Available as hardcover and e-book. Buy worldwide here.

Living Mantra is an anthropology of mantra-experience among Hindu-tantric practitioners. In ancient Indian doctrine and legends, mantras perceived by rishis (seers) invoke deities and have transformative powers. Adopting a methodology that combines scholarship and practice, Mani Rao discovers a continuing tradition of visionaries (rishis/seers) and revelations in south India’s Andhra-Telangana. Both deeply researched and replete with fascinating narratives, the book  reformulates the poetics of mantra-practice as it probes practical questions. Can one know if a vision is real or imagined? Is vision visual? Are deity-visions mediated by culture? If mantras are effective, what is the role of devotion? Are mantras language? Living Mantra interrogates not only theoretical questions, but also those a practitioner would ask: how does one choose a deity, for example, or what might bind one to a guru? Rao breaks fresh ground in redirecting attention to the moments that precede systematization and canon-formation, showing how authoritative sources are formed. More details here.


Bhagavad Gita – A new release including Ishavasya Upanishad. Just out from Fingerprint press, India. Available online at Flipkart, Crossword and in many stores. This is an Indian subcontinent edition only. (For the USA and Canada edition, please order directly from independent publisher Autumn Hill Books, see books page for links).

New FP Gita


New & Selected Poems –Available worldwide online direct from the publisher, Poetrywala: click here. Also available in select stores in India– Mumbai: Kitabkhana. Bangalore: Atta Galatta. Hyderabad: Bookpoint.
Poetrywala book


Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader shortlisted for the Lucien Stryk Prize in translation. Winner will be announced on October 28th, 2015. Read more from the ALTA website here. Excerpt from the introduction to this book out in 19 Sep 2015, read here. INTERVIEWS: Pune MirrorKitaab. Podcast interview with Shoba Narayan on why Kalidasa matters and is so much fun, watch here. See books page for excerpts.

Kalidasa cover


Echolocation. A new edition of this book released by Math Paper Press, Singapore, in 2014. Buy online here. (For the original silver-bound gift edition of 2003, see the books page).
Echolocation MPP cover



  • “Sing to Me” from the Anomalous Chapbook Contest Notable manuscript, read here.
  • “Poem, Sisyphus” in Omniverse, read here.
  • Poems from Ghostmasters, read in Almost Island here.
  • Postcard Aphrodite”first published in Colorado Review and “Fêted” first published in Interim read in Big Bridge anthologyonline here
  • Poem-essay on Lorine Niedecker’s work/ life via select fragments from her poems, in Dukool,  here.
  • “Ding Dong Bell,” “Peace Treaty” and “Illiad Blues” in Mascara here
  • “Father’s Day” in Cordite here
  • Various poems in Softblow here and here
  • Various poems in Sangam House here

For more poems from previous books, see ‘books’ tab, or publications list in the ‘bio’ tab, The “New and Selected Poems” book released in India by Poetrywalahas a selection from across my books, see this link


  • “A Brief History of the Bhagavad Gita’s Canonization” in Religion Compass. (Email Mani for a pdf if you do not have access to Wiley).
  • “Writing to Stop.” Read in 91st Meridien.
  • “Automatic Writing – Real, Surreal, Hyper-real” in Fulcrum 7. Download pdf here.
  • “Repetitiveness in Gita translations.” Read in eXchanges.
  • Translator’s Note on the Gita translation. Read in eXchanges.
  • “Stretch.”  XCP. Download pdf here.
  • “Halloween” in Dimsum. Download pdf here.
  • “Decoding Augustine via Saussure.” In-Between Journal of Literary Criticism. Download pdf here.
  • “Caterpillar to Butterfly: Thoreau’s dietary journey.” Thoreau Society Bulletin. Read here.


  • Review of Arvind K. Mehrotra’s Songs of KabirTranslation Review (Vol 83, Issue 1, 2012). Download pdf here.
  • Review of Mohammad A Quayum’s Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Short Stories. Cha (Mar 2012, Issue 16.) Read here.
  • “Sisterhood of Royal Intrigue.” Review of Kaunteya by Madhavi Mahadevan. New Indian Expreess, 18th February 2017. Read here.
  • “Sita Recycled and Retold.” Review of Sita, Warrior of Mithila (Book 2, Ram Chandra Series) by Amish Tripathi. New Indian Express, 1st July 2017. Read here.
  • Review of Available Light, C.P.Surendran. First published in Kitaab, and reprinted in Scroll (November 7th, 2017). Read here.
  • “A Sense of Wholeness.” Review of There’s a Carnival Today, Manjushree Thapa’s translation of Indra Bahadur Rai’s Nepalese novel Aaja Ramita Chha. New Indian Express, 23rd Dec 2017. Read here.