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Varieties of Religious InventionFounders and Their Functions in History$
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Patrick Gray

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199359714

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199359714.001.0001

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Hinduism and the Question of Founders

Hinduism and the Question of Founders

(p.155) 7 Hinduism and the Question of Founders
Varieties of Religious Invention

Måns Broo

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the role of “founders” in Hinduism, a religion that prides itself on not having any identifiable historical initiators but also teems with creators and organizers of all kinds of sects, schools, and doctrines, gurus who lean heavily on charisma for their influence. What types of arguments do these facts give rise to, and what types of heuristic tools can be used to understand the dynamics behind religious orthodoxy and renewal in Hinduism? Using examples from both history and contemporary Hinduism, this chapter maintains that not having a founder is used creatively by Hindus to argue for the authenticity and supremacy of Hinduism. This strategy also enables Hindu thinkers and practitioners to find points of entry into a variety of contemporary discourses while creating space for charismatic innovation and revival through “secondary founders.”

Keywords:   Hinduism, gurus, charisma, religious innovation, secondary founders

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