The Guru in South Asia: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Guru in South Asia

New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Jacob Copeman, Aya Ikegame


260 pages

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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 Jacob Copeman and Aya Ikegame 2. The Governing Guru: Hindu Mathas In Liberalising India Aya Ikegame 3. The Slave Guru: Masters, Commanders, and Disciples In Early Modern South Asia William R. Pinch 4. The Political Guru: The Guru as Éminence Grise Christophe Jaffrelot 5. The Gay Guru: Fallibility, Unworldliness, and the Scene Of Instruction Lawrence Cohen 6. The Female Guru: Guru, Gender, and the Path Of Personal Experience Karen Pechilis 7. The Dreamed Guru: The Entangled Lives of the Amil and the Anthropologist Veena Das 8. The Mimetic Guru: Tracing the Real in Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda Relations Jacob Copeman 9. The Mediated Guru: Simplicity, Instantaneity and Change in Middle-Class Religious Seeking Kathinka Frøystad 10. The Cosmopolitan Guru: Spiritual Tourism and Ashrams In Rishikesh Meena Khandelwal 11. The Literary Guru: The Dual Emphasis on Bhakti and Vidhi In Western Indian Guru-Devotion Jeremy Morse 12. Continuities As Gurus Change Daniel Gold

About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Routledge/Edinburgh South Asian Studies Series

This series is published in association with the Centre for South Asian Studies, Edinburgh University - one of the leading centres for South Asian Studies in the UK with a strong interdisciplinary focus. It presents research monographs and high-quality edited volumes as well as textbook on topics concerning the Indian subcontinent from the modern period to contemporary times. It aims to advance understanding of the key issues in the study of South Asia, and contributions include works by experts in the social sciences and the humanities. In accordance with the academic traditions of Edinburgh, we particularly welcome submissions which emphasise the social in South Asian history, politics, sociology and anthropology, based upon thick description of empirical reality, generalised to provide original and broadly applicable conclusions.

The series welcomes new submissions from young researchers as well as established scholars working on South Asia, from any disciplinary perspective.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies