Gurus and Chelas: The Alchemy of Discipleship

Joseph S. Alter

in The Wrestler's Body

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076976
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912175 | DOI:
Gurus and Chelas: The Alchemy of Discipleship

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The concept of “guru” has been popularized to the point of parody, and it is difficult to approach the topic without stumbling over stereotypes and misconceptions. Spiritual teachers of all persuasions abound, and even those who espouse truth with conviction suffer the stigma of fraud. Wrestling is not immune to this modern malady, and there are as many charlatans in the akhara as there are in the temple, spiritual retreat, music hall, dance gharana, or any other arena where the institution of guruship prevails. Nevertheless, whether realized or imagined, the persona of the guru is an important concept in the wrestling rubric, in which ideals are more real than actual human experience, and the guru lives more as a figure of speech than as a flesh and blood teacher.

Keywords: guru; teachers; wrestling; charlatans; akhara; guruship

Chapter.  5155 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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