A native of Bombay, India, Indira Viswanathan Peterson is Professor and Chair in the Asian Studies Program at Mount Holyoke College. Peterson has a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University, and has held Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German government's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and other Foundations for scholarly research. She specializes in Sanskrit and Tamil literature, Hinduism, and South Indian cultural history and classical music. Her book Poems to àiva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1989) is the first study and translation of the Tamil devotional hymns of the àaivite saints of south India (6th - 8th c. C.E.), as well a study of their performance in South Indian temples.

Among Indira Peterson's forthcoming publications are: Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiråtårjunâya of Bhåravi (State University of New York Press), a study of a major 6th century Sanskrit poem related to the Mahåbhårata epic, and, coedited with Martha A.Selby, Tamil Geographies: Constructions of Space and Place in South India (SUNY Press). Peterson is Editor for Indian literature from the beginnings to the 20th century for the Expanded Sixth Edition of the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces (2 vols., 1995), has authored the Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia article on Indian literature (2001), and is currently writing a book on dance-dramas in the South Indian city of Thanjavur in the eighteenth century. In addition to her scholarly writing and teaching, Indira Peterson has given recitals of classical South Indian (Carnatic) music in the U.S. since 1977.