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From Yoga to KabbalahReligious Exoticism and the Logics of Bricolage$
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Véronique Altglas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199997626

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199997626.001.0001

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The Cultural and Historical Dimensions of Religious Exoticism

The Cultural and Historical Dimensions of Religious Exoticism

(p.24) 1 The Cultural and Historical Dimensions of Religious Exoticism
From Yoga to Kabbalah

Véronique Altglas

Oxford University Press

This book starts with a historical overview of the dissemination of neo-Hindu and kabbalistic teachings in Euroamerican societies. It describes the counter-mission undertaken by Hindu leaders in response to India’s colonization, explores the formation of a Christian Kabbalah as part of Western esotericism, and finally presents the 1960s counterculture as a pivotal moment for the popularization of Asian religions and Kabbalah. Of the conclusions borne out by this historical perspective, foremost is that exotic religious resources in Euroamerican societies have been largely shaped by the concerns and expectations of their host societies. They have been represented as primordial and mystical sources of wisdom, which would regenerate their polar opposite—an individualistic, materialistic, secular, and decadent West. Yet, Hinduism, Kabbalah, Buddhism, Tantrism, and Sufism arouse fascination as much as they provoke distaste. Their popularization has entailed their universalization and partial abstraction from their original cultural and religious systems.

Keywords:   exotic, Hinduism, Kabbalah, mystical, counterculture

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