Sonam Kachru is an Assistant Professor specializing in the history of premodern South Asian philosophy and literature, with an emphasis on Buddhist philosophy. One day soon, he believes, the histories of philosophy and literature in premodern South Asia will more widely be seen as an integral part of the humanities. As they should be. (For a personal version of this commitment, see this manifesto.)
His first book, Other Lives: Mind and World in Indian Buddhism, tracks ways in which one premodern Buddhist philosopher, Vasubandhu of Peshawar, used descriptions of experiences in dreams and non-human forms of life in thought experiments to rethink the relationship between mind and world. For more about Other Lives, which was written with a commitment to global philosophical outlook, with particular attention to a possibly connected ancient world, see this précis and this review.
Inspired by the way philosophy of mind and literary theory were aligned by some medieval critics working in Sanskrit, Kachru is interested in thinking through the nature of ambivalent and transformative cognitive experiences in long-form lyrical narratives in Sanskrit, with the Buddhist poet Aśvaghoṣa’s work in mind. The fragility of persons and works matters to him, as do disciplinary fragilities and absences. Consequently, he is also working on a longer-term project exploring what is involved in foregrounding the hidden history of the arguments and conceptual innovations associated with women in premodern Indian philosophy.
He continues to translate the lyrical archive of Lalla of Kashmir.
For a sense of what Kachru hopes to contribute to undergraduate teaching at Yale, see 5 Questions with Sonam Kachru, an interview with Daevan Mangalmurti. Along with courses on Buddhist philosophy, Kachru teaches courses imagining what the humanities might look like when framed with the help of South Asian concepts, arguments, and textual practices and experiences: he teaches The Bhagavad Gita: Lessons from Indian Humanities for the End of the World; and, thinking with women (human and non-human; historical and fictional) from the history of Indian Philosophy, Philosopher Queens of Hinduism.