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.

chapter 1|45 pages

The multifarious guru

An introduction1
ByJacob Copeman, Aya Ikegame

chapter 2|18 pages

The governing guru

Hindu mathas in liberalising India1
ByAya Ikegame

chapter 3|16 pages

The slave guru

Masters, commanders, and disciples in early modern South Asia1
ByWilliam R. Pinch

chapter 4|17 pages

The political guru

The guru as éminence grise
ByChristophe Jaffrelot

chapter 5|16 pages

The gay guru

Fallibility, unworldliness, and the scene of instruction
ByLawrence Cohen

chapter 6|20 pages

The female guru

Guru, gender, and the path of personal experience
ByKaren Pechilis

chapter 7|23 pages

The dreamed guru

The entangled lives of the amil and the anthropologist
ByVeena Das

chapter 8|25 pages

The mimetic guru

Tracing the real in Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda relations1
ByJacob Copeman

chapter 9|21 pages

The mediated guru

Simplicity, instantaneity and change in middle-class religious seeking1
ByKathinka Frøystad

chapter 10|20 pages

The cosmopolitan guru

Spiritual tourism and ashrams in Rishikesh1
ByMeena Khandelwal

chapter 11|19 pages

The literary guru

The dual emphasis on bhakti and vidhi in western Indian guru-devotion
ByJeremy G. Morse

chapter 12|14 pages

Continuities as gurus change

ByDaniel Gold