The Brahma Kumaris as a ‘Reflexive Tradition’
Responding to Late Modernity
This title was first published in 2002. Drawing on primary research on the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, a millenarian New Religious Movement of Indian origin, this book examines the status of tradition in the contemporary world through a critical engagement with the recent social theory of Anthony Giddens on the emergence of a post-traditional society. Wallis examines both the ways in which forms of tradition not only persist but also flourish in the contemporary world and also the manner in which such traditions are drawn on and (re)created by individuals in their ongoing construction of self-identity. Illuminating some of the difficulties encountered when social theory is applied to 'the real world', this book also offers a way of theorising about the status of contemporary religiosity that does not refer directly to the notion of secularisation.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction - responding to late modernity; Beyond tradition and modernity; Reflexive traditions and the New Age religious life; From world-rejection to ambivalence: a genealogy of the Brahma Kumaris; The ascetic and the instrumental: two contemporary renditions of Raja Yoga; Users, drifters and searchers: a typology of Brahma Kumaris membership patterns; Manifesting ambivalence: the pursuit of the millennium; Conclusion - in search of post-traditional religiosity; Bibliography; Index.
'John Walliss has made a highly original contribution to sociological studies of religion by challenging much of the received wisdom about the static character of tradition and the destructive effects of modernity. His book is successful at two levels. It reintegrates important issues of theory into the sociology of religion; and it provides rich empirical information about a fascinating religious movement, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. This combination of theory and analysis is all the more welcome for being clear, lively and concise. This book should be required reading for all students of modern religion.' James A. Beckford, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick '... Walliss has been successful in constructing a theoretically firmly based foundation for his target set.' Paul van der Velde, Nijmegen University, The Netherlands