Homegrown Gurus

From Hinduism in America to American Hinduism

Edited by Ann Gleig & Lola Williamson

Subjects: Religion, Hindu Studies, India And South Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy, New Religious Movements
Paperback : 9781438447926, 246 pages, July 2014
Hardcover : 9781438447919, 246 pages, November 2013

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Table of contents

List of Figures
Editor’s Note
Introduction: From Wave to Soil
Ann Gleig and Lola Williamson
1. Ram Dass: The Vicissitudes of Devotion and Ferocity of Grace
F. X. Charet
2. Building Tantric Infrastructure in America: Rudi’s Western Kashmir Shaivism
Helen Crovetto
3. Amrit Desai and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health
Ellen Goldberg
4. Swamis, Scholars, and Gurus: Siddha Yoga’s American Legacy
Lola Williamson
5. A Life in Progress: The Biographies of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Richard D. Mann

6. Guru Authority, Religious Innovation, and the Decline of New Vrindaban
E. Burke Rochford Jr. and Henry Doktorski
7. Neo-Advaita in America: Three Representative Teachers
Philip Charles Lucas
8. From Being to Becoming, Transcending to Transforming: Andrew Cohen and the Evolution of Enlightenment
Ann Gleig
Conclusion: On Reason, Religion, and the Real
Jeffrey J. Kripal

Exploring homegrown movements and figures, proclaims “American Hinduism” as a distinct religious tradition.


Today, a new stage in the development of Hinduism in America is taking shape. After a century of experimentation during which Americans welcomed Indian gurus who adjusted their teachings to accommodate the New World context, "American Hinduism" can now rightly be called its own tradition rather than an imported religion. Accordingly, this spiritual path is now headed by leaders born in North America. Homegrown Gurus explores this phenomenon in essays about these figures and their networks. A variety of teachers and movements are considered, including Ram Dass, Siddha Yoga, and Amrit Desai and Kripalu Yoga, among others. Two contradictory trends quickly become apparent: an increasing Westernization of Hindu practices and values alongside a renewed interest in traditional forms of Hinduism. These opposed sensibilities—innovation and preservation, radicalism and recovery—are characteristic of postmodernity and denote a new chapter in the American assimilation of Hinduism.

Ann Gleig is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Central Florida. Lola Williamson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Millsaps College and the author of Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion.


"The empirical record testifies to the fact that religions typically change—just as everything else changes—under specific conditions, including, here, historical and specific conditions. The beauty of Gleig's and Williamson's book is its careful and detailed accounting of that phenomenon as Hinduism, after washing across the shores of America with earlier gurus, took root and grew in specific and innovative ways under the charisma and creativity of America's own homegrown gurus. " — Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies

"…a valuable examination of some prominent American Hindus who have spread Hinduism among Americans and also, in diverse ways, Americanized what was once a foreign and exotic religion. " — Anthropology Review Database

"Concentrating on North America, this volume offers a timely and important group of essays that examine American Hinduism as a distinctive tradition … It also uses a theoretically sophisticated approach to examine the complexities and issues—such as authenticity, innovation, preservation, recovery, and radicalism—that arise from the meeting of divergent cultures … Highly recommended. " — CHOICE