Chapter

Maverick Guru with a Cause

Corinne G. Dempsey

in The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195187298
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784547 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195187296.003.0005
 Maverick Guru with a Cause

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This chapter begins with a religious autobiography as recounted by Aiya, the temple guru, beginning with his dramatic conversion from teenage atheist to religious enthusiast. It chronicles his insistent attempts to gain religious knowledge in spite of impediments due to his caste status as non-brahman. It explores the rationale behind the Śrīvidyā tradition’s close guarding of its secrets, keeping them off-limits to all but a select few. It describes how Aiya, once firmly entrenched within the Śrīvidyā path — thanks to his own maverick guru — becomes a different kind of nuisance to the status quo when he, at the request of his guru, enthusiastically propagates an otherwise exclusive tradition. Aiya’s unconventional approach succeeds not only because of his guru’s endorsement but, ironically, because of the respect he earns by running a temple dedicated to orthodoxy in ritual performance. This chapter also describes the ambivalent responses Aiya has received from upholders of religious orthodoxy in both North America and India.

Keywords: conversion; brahman; guru; Śrīvidyā; secret; orthodoxy; caste; autobiography

Chapter.  10669 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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