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Hinduism, gurus, and globalization

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Chapter Summary

The global spread of Hinduism happened differently in comparison to other religions such as Islam or Christianity. The successive waves of gurus that went overseas during the twentieth century, and the positive reception they received from both Hindus and non-Hindus alike ensured that Hinduism became a part of the global religious landscape as gurus became a regular fixture of Western popular culture, as did terms like ‘yoga’, ‘karma’, and ‘reincarnation’. This chapter traces the pivotal role that gurus have played in spreading Hinduism beyond the borders of South Asia by outlining the reasons for their movements overseas, and the means by which they have successfully transmitted Hinduism to a global audience. The chapter addresses the effect of transnational capitalism on Hinduism, and the effect that the globalization of Hinduism has had on defining Hindu identity in India and in the Hindu diaspora.

Keywords: Christianity; globalization; gurus; Hinduism; India; Islam



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