Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Nathan Katz

First Advisor's Committee Title

Major Professor

Second Advisor's Name

Steven Heine

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Albert Wuaku

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


guru, disciple, jyotirmayananda, sivananda, yoga, vedanta, shishya, yoga research foundation, miami

Date of Defense



The wave of gurus in America brought with them cultural transformations particularly in how they interpret Hinduism, how their teachings have adapted in engaging a Western audience, and the sustainability of their religious communities, thus changing the landscape of contemporary Hindu spirituality. The traditional model of the guru and disciple relationship according to Yoga and Vedanta is undergoing a transformation allowing for greater autonomy of the disciple to make decisions in how they appropriate the authority of the guru. This thesis examines the guru and disciple relationship within the institutional organization of the Yoga Research Foundation, founded by the contemporary guru, Swami Jyotirmayananda. Research of Jyotirmayananda’s unique following of Western disciples illuminates the nature of his authority through the establishment of his order and methods by which disciples navigate identity formation and experience religious transmission.





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