In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Madeleine Biardeau

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Apprenticeship and First Works
  • Intellectual Influences
  • From Philosophy to Anthropology
  • Indian Mythology: The Purāṇas and the Sanskrit Epics
  • Ethnography and the Hindu Goddess
  • International Reception and Biardeau’s Legacy

Hinduism Madeleine Biardeau
Silvia D'Intino
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0162


Madeleine Biardeau (b. 1922–d. 2010) was a French Indologist and an expert in Indian philosophy and religion. She started her career as a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in 1954, and she was a professor in Indian religion at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) from 1960 to 1989. Her work covers different Indian textual traditions, from linguistic philosophy to mythology and epics, focusing on the main tenets and values of Brahmanism and Hinduism. Her Mahābhārata (2002) is her masterwork. Biardeau contributed to the renewal of Indology, a field that until the mid-20th century was reserved mostly linguists and philologists that widened subsequently to include sociological and anthropological inquiry. Along with her work on Indian philosophical traditions, Biardeau engaged in lengthy fieldwork in India that led increasingly to work involving anthropological analysis.

General Overviews

Several comprehensive presentations of Biardeau’s career and work can be found in obituaries and tributes to the Indologist published in India and Europe; see Lardinois 2010, Malamoud 2011, and D’Intino 2011. Rousseleau 2013 focuses on the impact of French anthropology and sociology on Biardeau’s work. D’Intino 2011 includes a complete bibliography.

  • D’Intino, Silvia. “Obituary and Bibliography of Madeleine Biardeau, 1922–2010.” Indologica taurinensia 37 (2011): 297–315.

    General overview of Biardeau’s life and career, with a complete bibliography.

  • Lardinois, Roland. “Influential Indologist.” The Hindu, 28 February, 2010.

    A tribute to Biardeau, with an overall assessment of Biardeau’s work.

  • Malamoud, Charles. “Professor Madeleine Biardeau, 1922–2010.” Newsletter of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies 10 (2011): 43–46.

    Includes details on Biardeau’s early life; relates her particular approach to Hindu textual traditions, always connected to the theory of Hindu society.

  • Rousseleau, Raphael. “Madeleine Biardeau: Retour sur un parcours.” Du texte au terrain, du terrain au texte: Dialogues disciplinaires autour de l’œuvre de Madeleine Biardeau, May 2011. Paris: Centre d’Études: Inde/Asie du Sud, 2013.

    Review of Biardeau’s career, with particular attention to the influence of the French school of social anthropology (Louis Dumont) and structuralism (Claude Lévi-Strauss) on her work. Deeply inspired by both scholars, Biardeau also criticized their respective methodologies.

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