The Graceful Guru

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by Karen PechilisA distinctive aspect of Hindu devotion is the veneration of a human guru, who is not only an exemplar and a teacher, but is often worshipped as an embodiment of the divine. In the past these gurus have almost always been men. Today, however, female gurus are a noticeable presence, especially in the United States. This collection of nine all new essays looks at the phenomenon of the female guru both in its original Indian context, where Hindu women leaders have been unusual but not unknown, and as it has evolved on the American scene. Each chapter is devoted to a particular female guru, ranging from the fifth-century Tamil saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar to Gurumayi, who today presides over the worldwide movement of Siddha Yoga. The biographies of these special women are both fascinating in their own right and shed important new light on issues of gender and religious authority.

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