Enhet av olika slag: En komparativ studie av Amma och Bhagavans Oneness rörelse i Indien och Sverige
Oneness of Different Kinds: A Comparative Study of Amma and Bhagavan’s Oneness Movement in India and Sweden
The process of globalization is today an increasingly integrated component within the academic field of religious studies. As more and more religious movements work as transnational agents, and have the ability to spread to new cultures very rapidly, the need to study religion from a global perspective has become more important. The thesis takes its starting point in the context of highlighting religion as a transnational culture/institution. This is done by the conducting of a cross-cultural case study on the Oneness movement, located to the two different cultural contexts of India and Sweden. Oneness, founded in the 1980’s in South India by a couple known as Amma and Bhagavan, started off as a local school, and in less than twenty-five years transformed into what is today an international movement with followers in all parts of the world. Sweden were among the first countries outside of India where Oneness established. The teachings of Oneness can be described as a hybridization of New Age doctrines and traditional Hindu components, and can in themselves be looked upon as an outcome of a process of cultural exchange, and in the end, globalization. The thesis has as its focal point the question to what extent the Oneness movement has adapted to the local culture in its diffusion from an Indian to a Swedish cultural context. Through analysing empirical material in the form of qualitative interviews with followers and participant observations from both India and Sweden, the process of cultural diffusion is mapped out. The analysis of the collected material shows that Oneness does seem to have undergone a process of adaptation when introduced to a new cultural context (i.e. spreading from India to Sweden). Among the most significant changes that have taken place appears to be a difference in the way of perceiving the founders, as well as a shift from Hindu inspired practises towards a more secular approach.