Westin Harris

Portrait of Westin Harris

Position Title
PhD Candidate in the Study of Religion
Teaching Assistant in Religious Studies

915 Sproul

In his forthcoming doctoral dissertation, Westin examines medieval and early modern narrative literature about the siddha Virūpa, or Virūpākṣa—originating from Tibet, Nepal, and India; composed in Tibetan, Sanskrit, and vernacular languages; and dating from the 12-18th centuries—to illuminate the dialogic relationship between Buddhism and the Nātha saṃpradāya. As the attributed source of the first known instructions on haṭha yoga, as codified in the Amṛtasiddhi (Attainment of Immortality, c. 11th century), Virūpa has become a central person of interest in emerging scholarship about Buddhism’s role in the development of haṭhayoga.

An avid scholar-practitioner, Westin also serves as professional translator and research consultant for several major Buddhist translation projects, and he recently joined the editorial board at Nidān: International Journal for Indian Studies. 

Education and Degree(s)
  • M.A. Study of Religion, University of California, Davis
  • B.A. Sociocultural Anthropology, University of California, Davis
Honors and Awards
  • Provost's Dissertation Year Fellowship in the Humanities, 2022
  • ACLS Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Buddhist Studies, 2021
  • Catherine Goudert Gottesman Distinguished Graduate Award, 2020
  • Khyentse Foundation Translation Studies Scholarship, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • UC Davis Study of Religion First Year Fellowship, 2015
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Buddhism and Buddhist Syncretism
  • Nāth Sampradāya and Siddha cults
  • Life Writing and Narrative Literature
  • Texts and Images
  • Yoga Studies
  • Translation Studies