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Title: Becoming the Breath of Ram : the life and teachings of Neem Karoli Baba
Author: Langmuur, Katya
ISNI:       0000 0004 2710 2461
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the life and teachings of twentieth-century northern Indian guru, Neem Karoli Baba. The guru was an exceptionally elusive character both in tenns of temperament and of what may be established about him. Aside from hagiographical sources (almost all composed since his death in 1973), very little substantive evidence remains through which to evaluate him or his preceptorial career. This notwithstanding, certain aspects may be established with greater surety. Firstly, Neem Karoli Baba was a highly charismatic preceptor. Secondly, whilst standing apart from any acknowledged vaisnava lineage, he was part of the Hindu bhakti guru tradition. Thirdly, as his community consistently assert, he displayed a clear predilection for stories of Ram and Hanuman. With so little that is known or knowable about Neem Karoli Baba, it proves fruitful to locate him within an awareness of these three factors and to appraise the motivations and workings of his satsang for promoting him in this light. Following an introduction in Part One to the method and orientation employed here, the mythical figure ofHanumlin is shown to represent the intennediary between the celestial and worldly realms. The Hindu guru tradition attributes a similar mediatory function to its human exemplars. Part Two assesses this convention, introduces Neem Karoli Baba as a proponent of it and evaluates the role(s) of the community that succeeds him in relation to it. Closer consideration of the guru is offered in Part Three in which a biographical study is followed by analysis of his disciplic interaction and pedagogic modalities. The thesis concludes with an examination of the Western satsang that arose in the final years of his life, whose members include Ram Dass and Larry Brilliant. In this thesis, the initial charisma of the guru and the community's attempts to concretise its force are observed as a dynamic interplay that continues to infonn the current movement and that offers a contribution to the contemporary East-West religious dialogue.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: BL Religion