Through publicity and Marketing, Hindu spiritual leaders - Gurus can become successful entrepreneurs and public figures in contemporary India. Their organisations are often supported by business people, politicians and government officials. Focussing on gurus and their involvement in the world Hindu Council (VHP), Lise McKean explores the complex interrelations between religion and India's recent entry into the fray of transnational capitalism.
This close look at the business of religion, also concerns Hindutva, McKean shows how gurus are key players in popularising militant as well as moderate forms of Hindu Nationalism. Drawing from gurus publication, the press, and extensive field research, she illustrates the ways in which the upper caste ruling class minority enhances its already formidable power by supporting spiritual leaders and their organisations.
With a gallery of photographs and advertisements showing icons of spirituality used to sell commodities from textiles to cement to comic books, Divine Enterprise widely portrays the Hindu imagery pervading India's burgeoning consumer oriented society. She also discusses how gurus and the VHP popularise Hindu Nationalism through imagery such as the goddess, Mother India, and her martyred sons and daughters.
Starting in the other face of Hindu Spirituality ideals of austerity, selfless love and universal peace, Divine Enterprise will enlighten readers interested in Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Political Science, and Religion.
Lise McKean is a research associate in the Deptt. of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and managing editor of Public Culture.