Gurus in America

Edited by Thomas A. Forsthoefel & Cynthia Ann Humes

Subjects: American Religion
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780791465745, 244 pages, October 2005
Hardcover : 9780791465738, 244 pages, October 2005

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Table of contents

Introduction: Making Waves

Thomas A. Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes

1. Raja Yoga and the Guru: Gurani Anjali of Yoga Anand Ashram, Amityville, New York
Christopher Key Chapple

2. Weaving the Inward Thread to Awakening: The Perennial Appeal of Ramana Maharshi
Thomas A. Forsthoefel

3. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Beyond the TM Technique
Cynthia Ann Humes

4. Krishna and Culture: What Happens When the Lord of Vrindavana Moves to New York City
Tamal Krishna Goswami and Ravi M. Gupta

5. Baba’s World: A Global Guru and His Movement
Norris W. Palmer

6. Passage to America: Ammachi on American Soil
Selva J. Raj

7. The Perfectibility of Perfection: Siddha Yoga as a Global Movement
Lola Williamson

8. Osho, from Sex Guru to Guru of the Rich: The Spiritual Logic of Late Capitalism
Hugh B. Urban

9. Riding the Dawn Horse: Adi Da and the Eros of Nonduality
Jeffrey J. Kripal

Epilogue: Elevated Gurus, Concrete Traditions, and the Problems of Western Devotees
Daniel Gold

List of Contributors

A fascinating look at Hindu gurus with significant followings in the United States.


Gurus in America provides an excellent introduction to the guru phenomenon in the United States, with in-depth analyses of nine important Hindu gurus—Adi Da, Ammachi, Mayi Chidvilasananda, Gurani Anjali, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Osho, Ramana Maharshi, Sai Baba, and Swami Bhaktivedanta. All of these gurus have attracted significant followings in the U.S. and nearly all have lived here for considerable periods of time. The book's contributors discuss the characteristics of each guru's teachings, the history of each movement, and the particular construction of Hinduism each guru offers. Contributors also address the religious and cultural interaction, translation, and transplantation that occurs when gurus offer their teachings in America. This is a fascinating guide that will elucidate an important element in America's diverse and ever-changing spiritual landscape.

Thomas A. Forsthoefel is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Mercyhurst College. He is the author of Knowing Beyond Knowledge: Epistemologies of Religious Experience in Classical and Modern Advaita. At Claremont McKenna College, Cynthia Ann Humes is Chief Technology Officer and Director of Information Technology Services and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. She is coeditor (with Bradley R. Hertel) of Living Banaras: Hindu Religion in Cultural Context, also published by SUNY Press.


"...a remarkably informative book that does much to sort out the sometimes bewildering array of gurus, practices, and teachings." — Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies

"…the authors apply solid academic methodologies to their studies. But they also gesture beyond—to the gurus themselves and their roots within an ancient lineage of gurus, masters, sages, and realizers. Quite apart from its contribution to religious scholarship, Gurus in America invites readers to a more intimate acquaintance—not only with the movements, businesses, and organizations bearing the names of these remarkable teachers, but to the teachers themselves and the wisdom-teachings they have expounded." — Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

"There are some fine and informative essays in this anthology … this volume will find its way into college courses on Hinduism around the country. The anthology includes discussions of some interesting and provocative figures that many students and general readers will enjoy." — International Journal of Hindu Studies

"This new collection focuses on nine contemporary Hindu gurus who have made an impact on religious life in the US … [Its] virtue is its taking the encounters seriously and engaging them both theoretically (as they challenge theology and philosophy), and in terms of new ways of practice they require." — CHOICE

"I like the intrinsic fascination of the subject matter for anyone who has studied South Asia or is interested in the migration of Indian thought and practice to the West in recent decades." — Thomas B. Coburn, author of Encountering the Goddess: A Translation of the Devī-Māhātmya and a Study of Its Interpretation

"A number of the contributors write not only as academically trained and thoughtful scholars, but also as devotees; or as those whose lives in some way have been touched in a positive manner by the gurus of whom they write; or by a good experience with the guru's ashram or community of disciples. It is noteworthy that their personal experiences or spiritual commitments do not prohibit their willingness and ability to engage their topics from a critical, scholarly perspective. Indeed, their experiences enhance their understanding of the material." — William K. Mahony, author of The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination