Period: 2 August - 31 August 2003. Country: India
  Purpose of the Visit
  Faith and Spiritual Practice (Sadhana) in Contemporary Hinduism: Transformation of “Salvation” in Ashram
  TANABE Akio (ASAFAS: Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies)
  Record of Activities
  8/2 (Sat)
  • Leave Kansai International Airport – Arrive in Calcutta
      8/2 (Sat) – 30 (Sat)
  • Collected data and did fieldwork on “Contemporary dynamics of Hindu beliefs and practices” at Calcutta, Bhubaneswar and Puri.
      8/30 (Sat) – 8/31 (Sun)
  • Leave Calcutta – Arrive at Kansai International Airport


      Outcome and Progress Report
      From the National Library in Calcutta, I collected materials from the colonial period regarding the monasteries of Puri. I also searched for records from the colonial period on the topic in the State Archives in Bhubaneswar, unfortunately without success. I visited an ashram (monastery) in Puri and conducted interviews on the beliefs and concrete practices of Hindu asceticism. The aim of this research was to investigate contemporary transformations in the meaning of religious “salvation” in monasteries in India, by examining the networks formed between spiritual guides called “gurus,” renouncers, householders, devotees and visitors to monasteries, and to explore the beliefs and religious practices, such as ascetic practices, involved therein. I also conducted intensive interviews on the life histories of the people concerned, including how they came to the ashram and what they were seeking from their ascetic practices and beliefs. Particular attention was paid to the problems they faced in their relationships and communities in changing contemporary Indian society, and how they sought salvation in religion.


      Future Tasks
      I have conducted several interviews, but have not yet analyzed the case studies. My aim is to investigate how new aspects of Hinduism can be found in contemporary conditions, by focusing on the problems presented by people in the ashram, and how they resolved these problems. For this purpose, I must place the religious practices of individuals in both the contexts of the history of religions and contemporary socio-political conditions.


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