The Construction of Authority in the Christian Ashram Movement / La Construction de l autorité dans le mouvement des ashrams chrétiens - article ; n°1 ; vol.67, pg 53-75
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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1989 - Volume 67 - Numéro 1 - Pages 53-75
23 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1989
Nombre de lectures 33
Langue Français
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo


Helen Ralston
The Construction of Authority in the Christian Ashram Movement
/ La Construction de l'autorité dans le mouvement des ashrams
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 53-75.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Ralston Helen. The Construction of Authority in the Christian Ashram Movement / La Construction de l'autorité dans le
mouvement des ashrams chrétiens. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 67/1, 1989. pp. 53-75.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1989.1370 Se soc des Rel 1989 67/1 janvier-mars 53-75
Le présent article intéresse la construction sociale de autorité telle
qu on peut observer dans un nouveaux mouvement religieux qui se
développe en Inde le Mouvement des ashrams chrétiens En accord
avec Weber auteur soutient que autorité charismatique
exercent les gourous se construit socialement travers la reconnais
sance acceptation et la légitimation de la part de leurs disciples des
qualités exceptionnelles un chef qui possède art de concilier dans
son message expression de leur conscience avec celle de leurs valeurs
et de leurs intérêts article analyse abord acception tradition
nelle de la notion de gourou et la nature du rapport gourou-disciple
Il observe ensuite quel est le rôle du gourou dans des mouvements
reformés néo-hindous ainsi que dans quelques ashrams hindous
contemporains Enfin il examine différents modèles autorité dans
des ashrams chrétiens il met en lien avec les origines et le
développement de leur mouvement Des différences entre traditions
catholiques et protestantes sont signalées auteur conclue que
attention portée sur autorité en tant que relation socialement
construite permet de mieux comprendre les cas de succès ou échec
au sein du mouvement des ashrams chrétiens La réflexion appuie
sur une observation participante faite dans le cadre une enquête de
terrain de quatorze mois menée en Inde entre 1983 et 1985 auprès de
vingt ashrams hindous et trente et un ashrams chrétiens
To understand the construction and nature of authority in ashrams one must
first explicate the key hindu concepts ashram guru and guru-disciple
relationship The conceptualizatiion of guru and the is drawn from reconstructions and interpretations of ancient hindu
tradition and from neo-hindu revivalism of the XIXth and early XXth centuries
European orientalists hindu scholars and Christian philosophers and theolo
gians all contributed to the revival and re-interpretation of these classic hindu
institutions The contemporary interpretation involves somewhat idealized
perspective on the ancient tradition
An ashram is typically described as spontaneous community of seekers or
disciples gathered around spiritual leader called guru who points way to
salvation This conception of ashram draws of the asrama theory of sanskrit
writers in its reference to way of life characterized by meditation asceticism and
strenuous spiritual endeavour in all stages of life Kane 1941:425 The sanskrit
term asrama has two meanings It refers to the forest hermitages of the seers
who are believed to have received the Veda from the gods and of holy people spent their lives in meditation and austerities and who communicated their
teaching and experience of Brahman the Absolute to disciples and to the
stages of life of the twice-born Hindu each characterized by appropriate spiritual
key aspect of ashram life is the common or personal dhan The term
sadhana refers to the course of spiritual discipline or teaching leading to
fulfilment or realization of life Parrinder 1971:239-40 All religious traditions
have specific spiritual disciplines for their followers The spiritual guides of the
Christian tradition as well as the gurus of the Indian tradition formulate for their
disciples common or particular sàdhanâs Such are the various monastic orders of
the hindu and Christian tradition So too the gurus and charismatic personalities
around whom an ashram whether hindu or Christian is formed prescribe
common and personal sàdhanâs for their followers The specific sadhana of an
ashram is major factor contributing to the unique character of the ashram The
spiritual discipline of the ashram is regarded as providing the motive force for
action Beaver 1965:887)
Closely linked with but distinct from the concept ïé sadhana in ashram life
is the marga the specific way or path to liberation There are three principal
margas karma-m rga involving work the performance ofascetical and reli
gious observances bh kti-m rga involving loving devotion and surrender to
personal God 3)jnana-marga transcendental knowledge of Reality
Parrinder 1971:177 In actual practice no märga is followed in isolation each
being combined with elements of another Dhavanomy 1966:78 In the hindu
tradition the three märgas are identified with the three forms yoga karma-yoga
bhakti-yoga andjnana-yoga particularly as they are outlined in the Yoga Sutras by
Patanjali the philosopher of the second century B.C Various schools of philo
sophy have developed other märgas many of them involving one or other form of
yoga All of them underline the importance of the guru to initiate and guide the
disciple in the path of self-realization
The term guru literally means heavy the Weighty One Stutley:107 It
signifies the belief that mighty or holy persons have spiritual attribute which is
measured in quantity The guru is the one who on account of his or her special
knowledge and function is held to be bearer of power of weight and influence
The guru as spiritual guide in the Upanishadic tradition Advaya Taraka Up 14-
18 is the one who dispels darkness the one who dispels the mists of empirical
knowledge and enables person to become conscious that the world is
transitory dwelling until the time of moksa or release Ch Up 6.14.1ff) the one
who is learned in the scriptures and established in Brahman Mund Up 1.2.12
Although there are many women gurus and ascetics in contemporary hindu and
Christian ashrams there are no women ascetics in the Vedantic tradition Accor
ding to Kane 1941:945) women in rare cases adopted the ascetic mode of life in
brahmanic times Women ascetics are found in some later sectanan develop
ments of Hinduism King 1984:71)
In the hindu tradition the human guru mediates his personal God-expe
rience The guru is regarded as the medium through whom God reveals himself to
the disciple Gonda 1965:282) hence the peculiar veneration of the guru in the
diversity of philosophies and sectarian forms of Hinduism The guru was some
times placed on level with God Svetasvatar Up 6.23 Weber 1958:319 noted
that for some hindu sects the guru could be regarded as more than teacher
spiritual guide and exemplar who led the disciple to God he could actually
become deified as living god The hindu scriptures distinguish between three
kinds of guru the divine Guru the inner guru and the human guru
Prabuddha Bharata 1979:282-87 The divine Guru is the only Gum the
ultimate Guru Gita 9.18) and according to various schools of philosophy is
referred to as Brahman Saccidananda Sadguru the Supreme Teacher the Creator
of all creators the Word Vak) Avalara that is incarnations of God as Teacher
such as Sri Krishna Buddha Christ Sri Ramakrishna and others The inner
guru is the awakened spiritual faculty of own mind the third eye or the
inner eye or the sattvika buddhi of Gita 18.30) which guides the aspirant to God-
realization The human guru is the agent who awakens the inner guru and brings
about the union of the individual spirit with the Supreme Spirit
The human guru as agent or instrument has four main functions to
instruct the disciple in the spiritual ideal and the means of attaining it to
awaken the power of spiritual intuition to remove egoism by correction and
to connect the disciple to particular spiritual tradition The human guru is
believed to embody the Supreme Spirit of guidance Ultimately this is to be found
within oneself the inner guru Gonda 1965:241 also distinguishes between the
functions of guru the one who performs the samskaras sacraments from
conception to initiation and who maintains the child and imparts the Vedas to it
originally the father) b)âcârya the one from whom the pupil gathers the
knowledge of his socio-religious duties dharma) and upadhyaya the one who
for his livelihood teaches portion of the Veda Gonda notes that the institution of
guruship acquired the cumulative functions of imparting to the young male
member of the Aryan community the sacraments of initiation diksa) of teaching
him portion of the Veda and of educating him
According to some contemporary interpretations of hindu tradition Pr du
ddha Bharata 1979:283) the guru-disciple rela

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