Axel Michaels: German indologist (1949-) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Axel Michaels
German indologist

Axel Michaels

Axel Michaels
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German indologist
Is Indologist Professor Educator
From Germany
Field Academia Social science
Gender male
Birth 26 May 1949, Hamburg, Germany
Age 74 years
Star sign Gemini
Lautenschläger Research Prize 2015
The details (from wikipedia)


Axel Michaels (born 26 May 1949 in Hamburg, West Germany) is a Professor of Classical Indology and Religious Studies at Heidelberg University and Co-Director of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". He is also the Speaker of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 619 “Ritual Dynamics”.

Axel Michaels

Professional career

Axel Michaels studied Indology, Philosophy and Law in Munich, Freiburg, Hamburg and Benares. After he completed his dissertation in 1978 summa cum laude, Michaels worked as a research assistant at the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg and at the University of Münster. He then worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Indology at the University of Kiel. From 1981 to 83, he was Director of the Nepal Research Centre (Kathmandu), from 1983 to 1992 Assistant Professor at the University of Kiel, and from 1992 to 1996 Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Bern. In 1986, he was Spalding Visiting Fellow at the Wolfson College, Oxford. Since 1996, Michaels is Professor of Classical Indology at Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute, which he managed as Director from 1999 to 2002. Besides, he was Speaker of the interdisciplinary project “Cartography Programme on Benares”. In 2001, he was elected as the Speaker of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 619 “Ritual Dynamics”. During the years 2004 to 2011, he was Speaker of the German Research Foundation Council “Cultural Anthropology, Religious Studies, Non-European Cultures”. Axel Michaels is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” since 2007. Furthermore, he became Head Coordinator of the Heidelberg Center South Asia and Member of AG Zukunft II at Heidelberg University in 2010. Starting 2012, he is Heidelberg University Rector’s delegate for cooperation with India. Axel Michaels is full member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


From 1983 to 1984, Michaels was involved in a project about the initiation rites in Nepal in collaboration with the German Research Foundation. A further project in Nepal between 1984 and 1991 focused on rituals at the Pashupatinatha-Temple. From 1998 to 2002, Axel Michaels was engaged in the project “Text and Context of the Mahima-Dharma-Movement in Orissa”. This project was followed by a research on religious and divine maps of Benares (1999-2003). Both projects were supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). His current research, a co-operation with Niels Gutschow, started in 2002 and examines life cycle rituals in Nepal. Connected to the project was the shooting and production of the films Handling Death (2005) and Belfruit and loincloth (2007), realized in collaboration with Niels Gutschow and Christian Bau. Axel Michaels’ fields of research include Ethno-Indology, Ritual studies, Social and Legal History of Hinduism, Cultural History and Religion of Nepal.


Selected Publications

  • Getting Married – Hindu and Buddhist Marriage Rituals among Newars of Bhaktapur und Patan, Nepal. With Niels Gutschow. Includes a Film on DVD by Christian Bau. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag (Ethno-Indology). 2012.
  • Buddha – Leben, Lehre, Legende. München: C.H. Beck (C.H. Beck - Wissen). 2011.
  • Manusmrti – Manus Gesetzbuch (translated from Sanskrit and published with support from Anand Mishra). Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen. 2010.
  • Śiva in Trouble – Festivals and Rituals at the Paśupatinātha Temple of Deopatan (Nepal). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 2008.
  • Growing Up – Hindu and Buddhist Initiation Rituals among Newar Children in Bhaktapur, Nepal. With Niels Gutschow. Includes a Film on DVD by Christian Bau. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag (Ethno-Indology). 2008.
  • The Price of Purity: The Religious Judge in 19th Century Nepal. Containing the Edition and Translation of the Chapters on the Dharmādhikārin in Two (Mulukī) Ains. Torino: CESMEO, (Comitato „Corpus Juris Sancriticum et fontes iuris Asiae Meridianae et Centralis”). 2006.
  • Encountering Jesus & Buddha: Their Lives and Teachings. With Ulrich Luz. Translated by Linda M. Maloney. Minneapolis: Fortress. 2006.
  • Handling Death. The Dynamics of Death and Ancestor Rituals Among the Newars of Bhaktapur, Nepal. With Niels Gutschow. With Contributions by Johanna Buss and Nutan Sharma and a Film on DVD by Christian Bau. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. 2005.
  • Die Kunst des einfachen Lebens. Eine Kulturgeschichte der Askese. München: C.H. Beck. 2004.
  • Hinduism. Past and Present. Transl. (1998) by Barbara Harshaw. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2004. (German Original: Der Hinduismus: Geschichte und Gegenwart. München 1998. 2nd edition 2006).
  • Reisen der Götter. Der nepalische Pashupatinatha-Tempel und sein rituelles Umfeld. 2 Pts. With A. Michaels, G. Tandan. With drawings by Harald Fritzenkötter, Pashupatikshetra - Maps of Deoptan. Bonn: VGH Wissenschaftsverlag. 2004.
  • Benares - Tempel und religiöses Leben in der heiligen Stadt der Hindus. With Niels Gutschow. Köln: DuMont Buchverlag. 1993.
  • The Making of a Statue. Lost-wax Casting in Nepal. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. 1988.
  • Beweisverfahren in der vedischen Sakralgeometrie - Ein Beitrag zur Entstehungsgeschichte von Wissenschaft. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag (Alt- und Neu-Indische Studien). 1978.

Edited Books

  • Emotions in Rituals and Performance. With Christoph Wulf. London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge (South Asian and European Perspectives on Rituals and Performances). 2012.
  • Images of the Body in India. With Christoph Wulf. London, New York, New Delhi: Routledge (South Asian and European Perspectives on Rituals and Performances). 2011.
  • Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual. 5 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (Gen. Ed.). 2010/11.
  • Grammar and Morphology of Ritual, Section I of Grammars and Morphologies of Ritual Practices in Asia. With Anand Mishra Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 3-353 (Dynamics of Rituals). 2010.
  • Sacred Landscape of the Himalaya. With Niels Gutschow, Charles Ramble and Ernst Steinkellner. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. 2003.
  • The Pandit: Traditional Scholarship in India. [Festschrift P. Aithal]. New Delhi: Manohar (South Asian Studies). 2001.
  • Wild Goddesses in India and Nepal. Proceedings of an International Symposium in Berne and Zurich November 1994. Jointly ed. with Cornelia Vogelsanger and Annette Wilke. Bern: Peter Lang (Studia Religiosa Helvetica). 1996.
  • A Rama Temple in 19th Century Nepal. The Ramacandra Temple in Battisputali, Kathmandu. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag (Publications of the Nepal Research Centre) 1995.
  • Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley - Proceedings of an International Conference in Lübeck, June 1986. Jointly ed. with Niels Gutschow. 511 pp. St. Augustin: VGH Wissenschaftsverlag (Nepalica). 1987.
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