The Invention of a Guru

I recently came across Vikram Gandhi’s documentary Kumaré, in which the native New Yorker attempts to pass himself off as a spiritual teacher, his success, and dilemma when the time comes to admit the truth to his followers. I’m intending to use this as part of my Alternative Spiritualities class (starting January 2012), which takes the idea of inventing tradition as its theme. Gandhi’s point seems to be that anyone can become a guru, although logically, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because Gandhi did, anyone can. But does it matter? If the followers he attracted got something out of it, is their experience invalidated because of a lack of supernatural mandate?

3 thoughts on “The Invention of a Guru

  1. religionandmore April 25, 2011 / 8:55 am

    When/where’s this class, eh?

    • adamkadmon April 25, 2011 / 10:14 am

      It’s one of two classes I’m taking for Edinburgh Uni’s adult ed unit, Office of Lifelong Learning, next academic year, presuming anyone signs up for them. Alternative Spiritualities is a look at the various streams of alternative religiosity from the fin de séicle onward, starting with Theosophy and the Golden Dawn, and on through New Age, Wicca, Discordianism and so forth, with an overarching theme of the invention of tradition. That’s semester 2; before that, I’m doing a ten week textual/socio-historical introduction to the New Testament. I’ll blog about it nearer the time, and I’ll be posting all the class material on the Teaching page here, but I’d be glad to share my outlines with you for comments & criticisms in the meantime.

      • religionandmore April 25, 2011 / 1:09 pm

        Sounds excellent. Well done for getting into that, mate, Fingers crossed people sign up for!

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