When a Goddess Dies: Worshipping Ma Anandamayi After Her Death

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Oxford University Press, 2014 - Religion - 348 pages
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Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) is generally regarded as the most important Hindu woman saint of the twentieth century. Venerated alternately as a guru and as an incarnation of God on earth, Ma had hundreds of thousands of devotees. Through the creation of a religious movement and a vast network ofashrams - unprecedented for a woman - Ma presented herself as an authority figure in a society where female gurus were not often recognized. Because of her widespread influence, Ma is one of the rare Hindu saints whose cult has outlived her. Today, her tomb is a place of veneration, and she isvenerated by those who knew her and by those too young to have known her. Orianne Aymard has performed extensive fieldwork among Ma's current devotees. In this book, she examines what happens to a cult after the death of its leader. Does it decline, stagnate, or grow? Or is it rather transformed into something else entirely? Aymard's work sheds new light not only on Hindusainthood - and particularly female Hindu sainthood - but on the nature of charismatic religious leadership and devotion.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Aspects of the Postmortem Cult of the Guru
38
2 The Cult of Relics in Hinduism
67
3 Death of the Guru
110
4 Presence of the Guru
152
5 Sustainability of the Postmortem Cult
197
Conclusion
247
Notes
261
Glossary
303
Bibliography
307
Index
329
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About the author (2014)


Orianne Aymard has been a Visiting Scholar at the South Asia Institute of Columbia University. She is currently a Research Associate at the Centre d'etudes et de recherche sur l'Inde, l'Asie du Sud et sa diaspora (CERIAS), in Montreal

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