The Hare Krishnas have long been associated with Western hippie culture and New Age religious movements, but they have also developed deeply rooted communities in India and throughout the world over the past 50 years. Known officially as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), this once-marginal religious community now wields vast economic assets, political influence, and a posh identity endorsed by Indian business tycoons and Bollywood celebrities.
Bringing Krishna Back to India examines the place of this globalized religious community in Mumbai, India's business and entertainment capital, where ISKCON draws Indians from diverse regional and religious backgrounds and devotees adopt a conservative religious identity amidst a neoliberal urban context. Claire C. Robison examines the full-circle globalization of this religious movement and considers how religious revivalism shifts people's relationships to their religion, family, culture, and nation. By inhabiting a Hindu revivalist role, ISKCON educates Hindus and Jains into a new vision of their own traditions and promotes greater religiosity in Indian public life. This contradicts notions that societies are moving towards secularism and highlights how new religious identities are fashioned amidst industrialized urban spaces, such as college campuses, corporate wellness retreats, and Bollywood celebrity events. It also shows how local religion is shaped by transnational networks-even forms of revivalism that revere premodern ideals. In urban India religious traditionalism is often a form of cosmopolitanism, partaking in neoliberal economies, shaping political trends, and reflecting elite urban aspirations and aesthetics.
Claire C. Robison is Assistant Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. She examines religion in urban India amidst changing ideas about family, gender, class, and regional heritage and the interplay between transnational networks and local religion.
Reading Religion Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive updates on new books, new reviews, and more.
You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never share or sell your e-mail address.