Aditya Behl

mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU
Thu Aug 27 16:39:26 UTC 2009

Dear list members, 

I very much regret being the bearer of this
tragic news, but I am sure that some will
wish to know of the premature passing of
Aditya Behl, a brilliant colleague in the
field of Indo-Muslim literature. I forward here
the message distributed by the director
of the University of Pennsylvania 
South Asian Center, Prof. Kathleen Hall.


>   ***
>   *From: *Kathleen Hall <kdhall at
>   <mailto:kdhall at>>
>   Dear friends, students, and colleagues:
>   It is extremely difficult to write this message on
>   behalf of Penn's South Asia Center, for I am still
>   in a state of shock and simply overcome with
>   sadness.  Many of you will already have learned that
>   we have lost a very dear member of our South Asia
>   Studies community.   On Saturday August 22nd Aditya
>   Behl passed away unexpectedly in his home in
>   Philadelphia.  He was only 43.  He is survived by
>   his parents, his sister Aradhna, brother-in-law
>   Ashwini, and his young nephew.   A memorial service
>   will be held at Penn some time in the next few
>   weeks, the final decision being dependent on the
>   wishes of his family.
>   Aditya was a brilliant and imaginative scholar, an
>   erudite expert on Indo-Muslim literature,
>   particularly Sufi narrative poetry, and Sultanate
>   and Mughal cultural history.  He was also a true
>   aesthete; in his intellectual pursuits, the
>   marvelous meals he prepared,  the art he collected,
>   the words in which he delighted, he embodied a
>   delicate sensitivity and passion for the beautiful
>   and the sublime.
>   I had the pleasure of working closely with Aditya
>   when he served as Chair of the Department of South
>   Asia Studies at Penn.  Though an Associate
>   Professor, Aditya generously took time away from his
>   scholarship to devote his energies and a great deal
>   of effort to reinvigorating the Department after a
>   number of the senior faculty had retired.  As Chair,
>   he successfully acquired new faculty lines and hired
>   a number of exciting young scholars.  It is terribly
>   sad that Aditya has left us just when all the new
>   faculty are in place.  He will not have the pleasure
>   of being part of the wonderful faculty he worked so
>   hard to bring together.
>   Aditya animated our community with his indelible
>   charm, intellectual effervescence, and that
>   unmistakeable laugh.   We will all miss his very
>   special presence, deeply and profoundly.  The
>   Department, as well as the field of South Asia
>   Studies more broadly, has indeed suffered a very
>   great loss.
>   In another email, our colleague Jamal Elias
>   circulated a verse composed by one of Aditya's
>   favorite poets, Mirza Ghalib, to memorialize the
>   death of his nephew:
>   Since when did you become so punctual in your
>   dealings?
>   The Angel of Death could have made his claim another
>   day.
>   Yours, in fond memory of a very dear friend,
>   Kathy
>   Kathleen D. Hall
>   Associate Professor of Education & Anthropology
>   Director, South Asia Center
Matthew T. Kapstein
Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies
The University of Chicago Divinity School

Directeur d'études
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

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