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The Community of the Many Names of God: Sampradaya Construction in a Global Diaspora or New Religious Movement

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2007) June 2007

Journal: Religions of South Asia

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Buddhist Studies Islamic Studies

DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v1i1.107


The Community of the Many Names of God in Skanda Vale, Carmarthenshire has a number of unusual features. Founded by Guru Subramanium, a Sri Lankan Tamil in the 1960s in London, the Community moved to a valley in South Wales in the early 1970s, since when it has developed into a pilgrimage centre for British Tamils. The centre in Wales boasts three temples to Kali, Murugan and Sri Ranganathan (Vishnu), and the sadhana followed is that of Agamic Shaiva Siddhanta without the usual caste restrictions in worship. The paper will introduce the concept of ‘border guardians’ to describe a particular kind of charismatic authority. Innovative, intensely counter-intuitive, they creatively guard the border terrain. Whilst assessing the development of Skanda Vale into a sacred space for British Hindus, the paper will explore the contested relationship between Agamic and non-Agamic forms of Shaivism in Sri Lanka. The conclusion will be that such movements that have developed in the West owe more to their beginnings and histories in the place of origin to determine their formation and should be understood as transplanted sampradayas rather than being under the umbrella of the sociological study of new religious movements.

Author: Ron Geaves

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