Religions of South Asia, Vol 1, No 2 (2007)

The Global Diffusion and Westernization of Neo-Hindu Movements: Siddha Yoga and Sivananda Centres*

Veronique Altglas
Issued Date: 14 Dec 2007


Indian gurus continue today to be successful in attracting western disciples in India as well as disseminating their teachings all around the world, which seems to corroborate Colin Campbell’s interpretation of these cultural changes as a process of the easternization of the West. The aim of this article is to address this thesis, drawing on research undertaken in France and Britain on two neo-Hindu movements: Sivananda Centres and Siddha Yoga. Two aspects will be covered: the diffusion process of these organizations that became transnational, and their reception by the host cultures. The inescapable conclusion is that cultural encounter, adaptive strategies to national contexts, innovating ways of transmitting the teachings and simplification of the doctrines contribute to the transformation of neo-Hindu teachings as they spread transnationally. The reinterpretations and the selective approach of neo-Hindu teachings is extremely revealing of pervading attitudes regarding religion in modern societies: religious individualism, inner-worldly orientations, relativism and subjectivism about beliefs, and pragmatism. Thus one can assume that the diffusion of movements like Siddha Yoga and the Sivananda Centres probably tells us more about religious attitudes in western societies today, than about Hinduism itself.

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DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v1i2.217


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