The Guru in South Asia : New Interdisciplinary Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

The Guru in South Asia
New Interdisciplinary Perspectives

ISBN 9780415510196
Published August 4, 2012 by Routledge
272 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $190.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book provides a set of fresh and compelling interdisciplinary approaches to the enduring phenomenon of the guru in South Asia. Moving across different gurus and kinds of gurus, and between past and present, the chapters call attention to the extraordinary scope and richness of the social lives and roles of South Asian gurus. Prevailing scholarship has rightly considered the guru to be a source of religious and philosophical knowledge and mystical bodily practices. This book goes further and considers the social engagements and entanglements of these spiritual leaders, not just on their own (narrowly denominational) terms, but in terms of their diverse, complex, rapidly evolving engagements with ‘society’ broadly conceived. The book explores and illuminates the significance of female gurus, gurus from the perspective of Islam, imbrications of guru-ship and slavery in pre-modern India, connections between gurus and power, governance and economic liberalization in modern and contemporary India, vexed questions of sexuality and guru-ship, gurus’ charitable endeavours, the cosmopolitanism of gurus in contexts of spiritual tourism, and the mediation of gurus via technologies of electronic communication.

Bringing together internationally renowned scholars from religious studies, political science, history, sociology and anthropology, The Guru in South Asia provides exciting and original new insights into South Asian guru-ship.

Table of Contents

1. The Multifarious Guru: An Introduction  2. The Governing Guru: Hindu Mathas In Liberalising India  3. The Slave Guru: Masters, Commanders, and Disciples In Early Modern South Asia  4. The Political Guru: The Guru as Éminence Grise  5. The Gay Guru: Fallibility, Unworldliness, and the Scene Of Instruction  6. The Female Guru: Guru, Gender, and the Path Of Personal Experience  7. The Dreamed Guru: The Entangled Lives of the Amil and the Anthropologist 8. The Mimetic Guru: Tracing the Real in Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda Relations  9. The Mediated Guru: Simplicity, Instantaneity and Change in Middle-Class Religious Seeking  10. The Cosmopolitan Guru: Spiritual Tourism and Ashrams In Rishikesh  11. The Literary Guru: The Dual Emphasis on Bhakti and Vidhi In Western Indian Guru-Devotion  12. Continuities as Gurus Change

View More



Jacob Copeman is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Aya Ikegame is Research Associate for the ERC-funded OECUMENE project ‘Citizenship after Orientalism’ at the Open University, UK.