Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion

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Overview

Yoga, karma, meditation, guru—these terms, once obscure, are now a part of the American lexicon. Combining Hinduism with Western concepts and values, a new hybrid form of religion has developed in the United States over the past century. In Transcendent in America, Lola Williamson traces the history of various Hindu-inspired movements in America, and argues that together they constitute a discrete category of religious practice, a distinct and identifiable form of new religion.

Williamson provides an overview of the emergence of these movements through examining exchanges between Indian Hindus and American intellectuals such as Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and illuminates how Protestant traditions of inner experience paved the way for Hindu-style movements’ acceptance in the West.

Williamson focuses on three movements—Self-Realization Fellowship, Transcendental Meditation, and Siddha Yoga—as representative of the larger of phenomenon of Hindu-inspired meditation movements. She provides a window into the beliefs and practices of followers of these movements by offering concrete examples from their words and experiences that shed light on their world view, lifestyle, and relationship with their gurus. Drawing on scholarly research, numerous interviews, and decades of personal experience with Hindu-style practices, Williamson makes a convincing case that Hindu-inspired meditation movements are distinct from both immigrant Hinduism and other forms of Asian-influenced or “New Age” groups.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814794500
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 994,892
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lola Williamson is assistant professor of religious studies at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Table of Contents

A Note on Transliteration vii

Preface ix

Part 1 Background

1 What Are Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements? 3

2 Laying the Foundation for American-Style Hinduism 26

Part 2 Three Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements

3 Self-Realization Fellowship 55

4 Transcendental Meditation 80

5 Siddha Yoga 106

Part 3 In Their Own Words

6 The Guru-Disciple Relationship 135

7 Mystical Experiences 161

8 Worldview 186

Conclusion 215

Notes 235

Bibliography 243

Index 251

About the Author 261

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2011

    Not Worth It

    This book is not worth the money, nor the time to read. Interesting, yes. But the research is shallow, with questionable references; the author will quote an e-mail from an anonymous source.

    Very little is new. Almost anything you want to know about the three organizations she discusses can be found on their respective websites and it looks like that is about all the research she did. Short on new information, thin on meaningful analysis.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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