Role of the Guru

AoL East and West - A Study of the Art of Living Foundation - Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen

Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen [+-]
University of Tromsø.
Inga Bårdsen Tøllefsen is currently a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø. Her research interests include new religious movements (especially Indian-oriented movements) and the New Age, religion and gender, and religion and nature. She has published a number of articles (including on Art of Living) and book reviews in international academic journals, and has several articles forthcoming. Additionally she is co-editor of the forthcoming Nordic New Religions (Brill),
Milda Alisauskiene [+-]
Vytautas Magnus University
Associate professor at Department of Sociology, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania Director of New Religions Research and Information Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania
James R. Lewis [+-]
Wuhan University
James R. Lewis is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy at Wuhan University. He is well-published in the field of new religious movements. His publications and edited volumes include The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, Controversial New Religions (with Jesper Petersen), Scientology, Children of Jesus and Mary (with Nicholas Levine), and, most recently, Violence and New Religious Movements.


Chapter Three analyzes the role and place of Ravi Shankar, the process of his charismatization, as well as the attitudes of members toward the leader and his legitimization from the perspective of the sociology of religion. The analysis reveals that individuals express special attitudes toward the leader of the group: that, on the one hand, modern individuals sought liberation from institutionalized religion but at the same time they were searching for spiritual authority. Interviews with members of the AoL reveal diverse concepts of the spiritual leader. Contrary to the traditionally accepted understanding of a spiritual leader as the head of authority, the narratives revealed an understanding of the spiritual leader as both an advisor and a service provider.

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Bårdsen Tøllefsen, Inga; Ališauskienė, Milda; Lewis, James R.. Role of the Guru. AoL East and West - A Study of the Art of Living Foundation. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2022. ISBN 9781781791332. Date accessed: 23 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.22335. Oct 2022

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