The first in-depth study of the All World Gayatri Pariwar, a modern Indian religious movement.
The All World Gayatri Pariwar is a modern religious movement that enjoys wide popularity in North India, particularly among the many STEM workers who joined after becoming disillusioned with their lucrative but unfulfilling private-sector careers. Founded in the mid-twentieth century, the Gayatri Pariwar works to popularize practices inspired by ancient religious texts and breaks with convention by framing these practices as the foundation of a universal spirituality. The movement appeals to science in its advocacy of these practices, claiming that they have medical benefits that constitute proof that rational people around the world should find persuasive. Should these practices become sufficiently widespread, the belief is that humanity will enter a new satyug, or "golden age."
In The Science of Satyug, Daniel Heifetz focuses on how religion and science are objects of intense emotion that help to constitute identities. Weaving engaging ethnographic anecdotes together with readings of Gayatri Pariwar literature, Heifetz interprets this material in light of classic and contemporary theory. The result is a significant contribution to current conversations about the globalized middle classes and the entanglement of religion and science that will appeal to anyone interested in understanding these aspects of life in modern India.
Daniel Heifetz teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
"The author's extensive fieldwork, mostly as a participating resident of the group's ashram in Haridwar, gives this work descriptive and affective depth. His use of appropriate theories from the social sciences gives the study original insights that will be of use to other ethnographers. This book has potential utility in courses on new religious movements, transnational South Asian spiritual movements, ethnographic methods/theories, and science and religion." — Nova Religio