A study of the Art of Living Foundation
AuthorTøllefsen, Inga Bårdsen
The focus of this thesis is the Art of Living Foundation (AoL), a splinter group from Transcendental Meditation (TM). My primary goal is to present a systematic overview of this large but understudied movement. Over the course of this overview, I examine AoL through a variety of different interpretive frameworks. Throughout the thesis I inspect Art of Living through several different lenses: an analysis of discourse about the guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as a leader-founder, focused especially on the themes of charisma and hagiography; an inquiry into the various legitimation strategies utilized in AoL; an overview of AoL’s gradual splintering from TM in terms of sociological analyses of the schism process; an examination of the origin of the organization based on a model of ‘cult formation’ put forward by Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge; and some discussion of the conversion process. Finally, an important sub-theme of my thesis is how AoL is differently appropriated in two distinct cultures.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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