Rapid Social Change and New Religious Movements in Post-Independent India

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Rajeev DUBEY , Central University, AGARTALA, TRIPURA, India
The changing texture of religion is considered to be an important part of the structural transformation in post-Independent India and one worthy of closer analysis. As we know, theorist of modernity had written off religion in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It is now accepted, if a little late in the day, that religious identity rarely disappears with modernity. Rather, modernity refashions religious identities in various ways. It is manifested in the global religious resurgence of ‘New Religious Movements’ (NRMs). Possibly the rise of ‘New Religious Movements’ are felt rather strikingly in modern western societies undergoing rapid social change and experiencing diverse anxieties and ambiguities inherent in a hyper-modern and technological civilization. Yet, what gives meaning to the proposed paper is that it sees beyond the west, and examines how new religiosity is increasingly visible even in a society like ours.

As our society is undergoing rapid transformation and a new middle class with new aspirations is emerging, we witness the steady growth of religious channels on television, phenomenal growth of new gurus and cults, and new preoccupation with yoga, ayurveda, health and alternative life practices. This research paper aims to highlight Rapid Social Change which necessitated and facilitated rise and growth of new religious movements in Post-Independent India. It focuses on a fast-growing and high-profile contemporary Guru faith originating in India and attracting a transnational following. By drawing upon multi-sited fieldwork among the Sri Mataji Nirmala Devi primarily urban, educated ‘middle-class’ Indian devotees, the researcher provides crucial insights into new trends in popular Hinduism in a post-Independent and rapidly modernizing Indian setting. It attempts to locate the macro structural sources of New Religious Movements in post-Independent India; highlight the micro structural availability of people in a particular New Religious Movement.