Nick Tackes
PhD Student, Columbia University


I am an ethnographer of healing and religion in South Asia. My current research addresses self-help and -care as practiced by two Hindu groups in contemporary North India: the All World Gayatri Pariwar, an organization that pursues wellbeing through community-oriented social service, several religious rites that they claim have scientific backing, and the life and works of their founder Shriram Sharma, the presumed author of some 3200 books; and the patrons of the products and services of Baba Ramdev, whose Patanjali company deals in everything from yoga to instant noodles to swadeshi SIM cards. To this end, I work between Religion and Medical Anthropology.

I am currently a third-year PhD student in the Religion Department of Columbia University.


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  • Columbia University
    • PhD, 2021 (anticipated), Department of Religion
    • MA, 2016, Department of Religion
  • Carthage College
    • BA, 2013, Religion and Great Ideas
  • Other
    • Summer and Fall 2017 – American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS): Advanced Hindi – Jaipur, India
    • Summer 2016 – American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS): Advanced Hindi – Jaipur, India
    • Summer 2015 – South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI): Intermediate Sanskrit – Madison, WI
    • Fall 2013 – Zabaan Language Institute: Intermediate Hindi – New Delhi, India


  • Native fluency: English
  • High Proficiency: Hindi
  • Reading: Sanskrit, French

Competitive Scholarships and Honors

  • 2018
    • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award
    • AIIS Junior Research Fellowship (declined)
  • 2017
    • AIIS Language Fellowship: Hindi
    • Summer FLAS Fellowship: Hindi
  • 2016
    • Summer FLAS Fellowship: Hindi
  • 2015
    • Academic Year FLAS Fellowship: Hindi
  • 2014
    • Academic Year FLAS Fellowship: Hindi
  • 2013
    • Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship – English Teaching Assistant – New Delhi, India


  • “Zooming in on Mozoomdar: A Microhistory of Brahmo Belief,” Religion in South Asia Section, American Academy of Religion, Denver, November 18, 2018.
  • Chair/Discussant, “Yoga and Politics: South Asia and Beyond,” Madison South Asia Conference, October 12, 2018.
  • “The Creation of a Mahatma: Creative License in Ratnadeep Pictures’ Tulsidas (1954),” Madison South Asia Conference, October 23, 2015.


Professional Memberships

  • American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • International Exchange Alumni

Academic Positions

  • Spring 2019
    • Teaching Assistant – “Millenium: Apocalypse and Utopia” (Elizabeth Castelli, Religion)
  • Fall 2018
    • Teaching Assistant – “East Asian Buddhism” (Michael Como, Religion)
  • Summer 2018
    • Graduate Mentor – Laidlaw Scholarship Program
    • Research Assistant – Kavita Sivaramakrishnan (History and Public Health)
  • Spring 2018
    • Teaching Assistant – “Hinduism” (Jack Hawley, Religion)
  • Spring 2017
    • Research Assistant – Kavita Sivaramakrishnan (History and Public Health)
  • Summer 2014
    • Creative Writing Teacher – The Center for Gifted: Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity, Buffalo Grove, IL
  • Summer 2013-2014
    • English Teaching Assistant – Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship – New Delhi, India
  • Fall 2011-Spring 2013
    • CRLA Level 3 Certified Writing Tutor – Carthage College Writing Center


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