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Homegrown Gurus

From Hinduism in America to American Hinduism

Ann Gleig, Lola Williamson

Publication Year: 2013

Exploring homegrown movements and figures, proclaims “American Hinduism” as a distinct religious tradition.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

Editors’ Note

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: From Wave to Soil

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pp. 1-14

Some would argue that the term “Hinduism” is woefully inadequate because it enforces a false uniformity on such a wide variety of practices, philosophies, and beliefs. Yet this English word identifying religious propensities of the Indian subcontinent, based on a much earlier Persian designation for the people who lived in the area of the Sindhu (Indus)...

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1. Ram Dass: The Vicissitudes of Devotion and Ferocity of Grace

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pp. 15-40

The following focuses on one example of the influence of contemporary Indian gurus in the West by exploring the personal backgrounds and contexts of American‑born Ram Dass and his Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba, as well as the transformation of ideas, beliefs, and practices that have occurred in the process of this particular transmission of Hinduism...

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2. Building Tantric Infrastructure in America: Rudi’s Western Kashmir Shaivism

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pp. 41-62

Swami Rudrananda, also known simply as Rudi, was born in New York City in 1928 as Albert Rudolph. He was the eldest son of a Great Depression–era family who became one of the first American gurus to teach Hindu‑inspired Tantric spirituality in the West. As David Gordon White’s classical definition states: ...

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3. Amrit Desai and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

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pp. 63-86

This chapter has three specific goals: first, to understand the Kripalu Center’s initial growth based on Amrit Desai’s (1932–) adaptation and innovation of the Hindu‑inspired1 ashram model, with emphasis on the guru‑disciple relationship and the overwhelming popularity of the Kripalu approach to modern yoga; second, to document briefly the near...

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4. Swamis, Scholars, and Gurus: Siddha Yoga’s American Legacy

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pp. 87-114

Just prior to departing on his second world tour in 1974, Swami Muktananda (1908–1982) addressed several thousand disciples who had gathered at Mumbai’s Santa Cruz Airport. “I am going abroad to initiate a revolution, a meditation revolution,” he told the audience.1 Muktananda...

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5. A Life in Progress: The Biographies of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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pp. 115-140

This chapter studies the biographies of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001), or Gurudeva as his followers more commonly referred to him. Subramuniyaswami was the American‑born founder of the Saiva Siddhanta Church, the Himalayan Academy, and the Kauai Aadheenam.1 He claimed to be a guru within the South Indian Hindu tradition of...

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6. Guru Authority, Religious Innovation, and the Decline of New Vrindaban

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pp. 141-162

Charismatic authority has been central to the development of new religious movements. New religions are typically established by charismatic leaders preaching new revelations that in various ways challenge the legitimacy of the existing social order, including the established churches.1 But as recent research suggests, charisma is a dynamic and...

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7. Neo-Advaita in America: Three Representative Teachers

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pp. 163-188

Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) was a prominent Indian exemplar of Advaita Vedanta during the first half of the twentieth century.1 Advaita Vedanta philosophy asserts that Brahman or One Absolute Reality is infinite, formless, nondual awareness, and that the supreme goal of human...

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8. From Being to Becoming, Transcending to Transforming: Andrew Cohen and the Evolution of Enlightenment

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pp. 189-214

Several Asian religious and philosophical articulations of nonduality exist. One of the most fundamental contrasts is between a nonduality that affirms the identity of absolute and relative phenomena, and consequently embraces the material world as an expression of the absolute, as found within the pan–Asian Tantric traditions, and a nonduality...

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Conclusion: On Reason, Religion, and the Real

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pp. 215-224

How does one conclude such rich and diverse chapters on such a colorful cast of characters—and in just a few pages?1 One certainly does not try to summarize the individual chapters, nor is dwelling on the particulars particularly helpful. Better instead to try to isolate a few core...


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pp. 225-228


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pp. 229-234

Back Cover

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p. 248-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781438447933
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438447919

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hinduism -- United States.
  • Gurus -- United States.
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