A New Religious Movement in Singapore: Syncretism and Variation in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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Abstract

This ethnographic study of the Sathya Sai Baba Movement in Singapore situates itself within the sociological study of New Religious Movements (NRMs). Studies on the expansion of “cults” and NRMs are well documented, but little has been done to explore how such movements proceed after the initial foothold has been established in the host country. Patterns of interaction with the highly plural socio-ethnic and religious elements that exist in multicultural nations, as in Singapore, and the attendant social implications have not been sufficiently addressed. The Sai Baba movement preaches and practises ethno-religious ecumenism and allow adherents to maintain the religious affiliations and practices of their parent or current religion. This paper explores the nature of the Sathya Sai Baba Movement's religious framework and its apparent success in pluralistic Singapore by studying the impact of syncretism and ritual variations on the identity of the movement.

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