International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 7, No 1 (2016)

Unity Behind Diversity or the Reverse?: The Language of Universality in Amma and Bhagavan’s Oneness Movement

Elin Thorsén
Issued Date: 5 Jul 2016

Abstract


This article addresses how a language and practice of non-denominational universality is used within the Oneness movement, and the ways in which this universality has been crucial in order to appeal to a global audience. The Oneness movement, founded by the couple Sri Amma and Bhagavan, originated in South India in the 1990s, and has gained a substantial international following during the last decade. The cornerstone of the movement is the practice of giving and receiving deeksha, a kind of energy transmission said to usher the receiver into a state of higher consciousness. Drawing on empirical material collected during fieldwork with Oneness groups in India and Sweden, and taking the concepts of portable practice and transposable message as a point of departure, the practice of deeksha and the message of an all-encompassing human potential for spiritual awakening is analysed in order to find the themes that have made Oneness appealing in a global context. It is argued that the diffusion of Oneness into new cultures has been a balancing act between on the one hand adaptation to local cultures, and on the other hand claims of universal applicability and validity. By making use of the argument that their spiritual message stretches beyond boundaries such as those imposed by culture and religion, the Oneness movement sees its message as compatible with most (if not all) major religious traditions, and can thus encourage cultural adaptation of their teachings without loosing their credibility. This makes the language of universality function as an important strategy in the process of acquiring legitimacy on a global level.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v7i1.20123

References


Ardagh, Arjuna.


2009. Awakening into Oneness. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.


Beckford, James A.


2004. “New religious movements and globalization.” In New Religious Movements in the 21st Century, edited by Phillip Charles Lucas and Thomas Robbins, 253–263. London: Routledge.


Beyer, Peter.


2006. Religions in Global Society. London: Routledge


Beyer, Peter and Lori Beaman.


2007. “Introduction.” In Religion, Gobalization and Culture, edited by Peter Beyer and Lori Beaman, 1–5. Leiden, Boston: Brill. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/ej.9789004154070.i-608.4


Charpentier, Marie-Thérèse.


2010. Indian Female Gurus in Contemporary Hinduism: A Study of Central Aspects and Expressions of Their Religious Leadership. Åbo: Åbo Akademi University Press.


Csordas, Thomas J.


2009. “Introduction: Modalities of transnational transcendence.” In Transnational Transcendence: Essays on Religion and Globalization, edited by Thomas J. Csordas, 1–29. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Clarke, Peter.


2006. New Religions in Global Perspective. London: Routledge.


Doniger, Wendy.


2013. On Hinduism. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company.


Frisk, Liselotte.


2002. “The Satsang Network: A growing Post-Osho phenomenon.” In Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 6(1): 64–85.


2003. “New Age participants in Sweden: Background, beliefs, engagement and ‘conversion’.” In New Religions in a Postmodern World, edited by Mikael Rothstein and Reender Kranenborg, 241–255. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.


2014. “Enhetsvälsignelse eller diksha: Helande och upplysning på samma gång”, in Helig hälsa. Helandemetoder i det mångreligiösa Sverige, edited by Jessica Moberg and Göran Ståhle, 97–110. Stockholm: Dialogos.


Frøystad, Kathinka.


2006. “Veldig vitenskapelig. Vitenskapelige legitimeringsformer i den indiske New Age-bevegelsen.” Norsk Antropologisk tidsskrift 17(2): 105–118.


2011. “From analogies to narrative entanglement: Invoking scientific authority in Indian New Age spirituality.” In Handbook of Religion and the Authority of Science, edited by James R. Lewis and Olav Hammer, 41–66. Leiden: Brill.


Hammer, Olav.


1997. På spaning efter helheten. New Age – en ny folktro? Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand.


2004. Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. Leiden: Brill.


Heelas, Paul and Linda Woodhead.


2005. Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Malden, MA: Blackwell.


Hervieu-Leger, Danièle.


2004. “France’s obsession with the ‘sectarian threat’.” In New Religious Movements in the 21st Century, edited by Phillip Charles Lucas and Thomas Robbins, 49–59. New York and London: Routledge.


Huffer, Amanda J.


2011. “Hinduism without religion: Amma’s movement in America.” Crosscurrents 61(3): 374–398. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-3881.2011.00188.x


Hägglund, Helena.


2009. “Handpåläggning lockar många nyfikna.” Kyrkans tidning, 12 November 2009 (http://www.kyrkanstidning.se/nyhet/handpalaggning-lockar-manga- nyfikna). Accessed on 5 May 2013.


Kinsley, David.


2005. “Avatara.” In Encyklopedia of Religion. Second Edition. Editor in chief Lindsay Jones. Detroit. MI: Thomson Gale.


Lucas, Phillip Charles.


2011. “When a movement is not a movement: Ramana Maharshi and Neo-Advaita in North America.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 15(2): 93–114.


Melton, J. Gordon.


2001. “Reiki: The international spread of a new age healing movement.” In New Age Religion and Globalization, edited by Mikael Rothstein, 73–93. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.


Oneness


2015. Samtal med Sri Padmavathi Amma (originally published as Amma—The Divine Mother in 2007). Chennai: Golden Products Center.


Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli.


1997. Indian Philosophy Volume 2. Oxford, Delhi: Oxford University Press.


Srinivas, Tulasi.


2010. Winged Faith. Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism Through the Sathya Sai Movement. New York: Columbia University Press.


Thorsén, Elin.


2013. Oneness of Different Kinds: A Comparative Study of the Oneness Movement in India and Sweden. MA thesis, University of Gothenburg (available at http://hdl.handle.net/2077/33618)


Windrider, Kiara, with Grace Sears.


2006. Deeksha: The Fire from Heaven. Novato, California: New World Library.


Electronic resources


http://www.onenessuniversity.org/index.php/about-us/vision, accessed on 31 October 2012


http://www.onenessuniversity.org/index.php/mahadeeksha, accessed on 31 October 2012


http://www.onenessuniversity.org/index.php/courses/oneness-awakening-course, accessed on 31 October 2012


http://www.worldonenesscommunity.com, accessed on 31 October 2012


http://www.onenessuniversity.org/onenessdeeksha, accessed on 18 March 2015


http://onenessnewsleter.com, accessed on 1 April 2015







Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: [email protected]

Privacy Policy