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

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 40%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $9.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 65%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (8) from $9.00   
  • New (3) from $19.67   
  • Used (5) from $9.00   


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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Highly recommended.”-Choice

"The author explores the hybrid forms of spiritual practice that emerged in the West, especially in the United States, over the last century as a result of the encounter with Hinduism in its myriad forms."-Frank J. Korom,Religious Studies Review

“Bringing together history and ethnographic interviews, Williamson argues that Hindu-inspired meditation movements are a distinct type of new religious movement, even if their followers and leaders may repeat the 'mantra' that they are 'spiritual but not religious.'"-Religion Watch

"Overall, this book presents a thorough illustration of guru-following as a 'non-institutional institution' (85), and convincingly articulates the phenomenon of HIMMs [Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements] as a valuable category within present studies of religion. Given its detailed exposition of the commonalities and differences amongst HIMMs, including the controversies surrounding each movement, this book is equally suited to scholars of religion as it is to adherents of contemporary spirituality interested in the practice of meditation."-International Journal for the Study of New Religions

“In this highly readable study, Williamson not only places Hindu-inspired meditation movements within the larger picture of the historical context of American religion and culture, but also gives us an intimate glimpse into the motivations and experiences of long-time practitioners. Combining both insider and outsider perspectives, she provides a rich, balanced, and sympathetic account of these movements, while not shying away from the controversies they have generated. This book is a ‘must-read’ for those interested in both Indian spirituality and American pluralism.”
-Kathleen M. Erndl,author of Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol

"The author is to be commended for drawing serious attention to an understudied subset of Hindu-based missionary movements in the West."-Phillip Charles Lucas,Religion

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814794500
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Series: New and Alternative Religions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,363,994
  • 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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

A Note on Transliteration
Part I : Background
1 What Are Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements?
2 Laying the Foundation for American-Style Hinduism
Part II :
Three Hindu - Insired
Meditation Movements
3 Self-Realization Fellowship
4 Transcendental Meditation
5 Siddha Yoga
Part III: In Their Own Words
6 The Guru-Disciple Relationship
7 Mystical Experiences
8 Worldview
About the Author

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
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
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)