This book analyzes the contemporary global revival of Nondual Śaivism, a thousand-year-old medieval Hindu religious philosophy. Providing a historical overview of the seminal people and groups responsible for the revival, the book compares the tradition’s medieval Indian origins to modern forms, which are situated within distinctively contemporary religious, economic and technological contexts.
The author bridges the current gap in the literature between "insider" (emic) and "outsider” (etic) perspectives by examining modern Nondual Śaivism from multiple standpoints as both a critical scholar of religion and an empathetic participant-observer. The book explores modern Nondual Śaivism in relation to recent scholarly debates concerning the legitimacy of New Age consumptive spirituality, the global spiritual marketplace and the contemporary culture of narcissism. It also analyzes the dark side of the revived tradition, and investigates contemporary teachers accused of sexual abuse and illegal financial activities in relation to unique features of Nondual Śaivism’s theosophy and modern scholarship on new religious movements (NRMs) and cults. This book shows that, although Kashmir Śaivism has been adopted by certain teachers and groups to market their own brand of "High Tantra," some contemporary practitioners have remained true to the system’s fundamental tenets and teach authentic (albeit modern) forms of Nondual Śaivism.
This book will be of interest to academics in the fields of religion and Asian philosophies, especially South Asian, tantric, neo-tantric and yoga philosophies, alternative and New Age spiritualities, religion and consumerism, and NRMs and cults.
Winner of the inaugural 2021 New Zealand Asia Society Book Award, second prize.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Śaiva Tantra and the origins of Nondual Śaiva Theosophy 2. Nondual Śaiva Theosophy 3. Swami Lakshman Joo and his legacy 4. Swami Muktananda and the Siddha Yoga legacy 5. The scholar-practitioners 6. Consuming Nondual Śaivism 7. Caveat Emptor: power, sex and money in contemporary Nondual Śaivism 8. Recovering Nondual Śaivism: an autoethnography Conclusion
Douglas Osto is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Massey University, New Zealand. He is the author of Altered States: Buddhism and Psychedelic Spirituality in America (2016), and Power, Wealth and Women in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Gaṇḍavyūha-sūtra (Routledge, 2008).