Hare Krishnas in Singapore: Agency, State, and Hinduism

Rodney Sebastian, Ashvin Parameswaran

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The members of the Hare Krishna movement in Singapore have been subjected to state and social disapproval since the late seventies. In order to gain legitimate space and approval they have adopted various strategies of negotiating their identity within the social structure of Singapore. In this paper, we investigate the transformation of the relationship between State and Hare Krishna and popular Hinduism and Hare Krishna over the past four decades. This paper also serves as a documentation of the growth of the Hare Krishna movement in Singapore. It will be shown that Hare Krishna devotees, while cautious not to provoke the state into sanctioning them, have persisted in their devotional practices and gradually expanded in terms of numbers and social spaces. The social oppression they face has also caused them to re-negotiate their ambiguous identi?cation with popular Hinduism. Interviews with them suggest that the negotiation of identity with Hinduism is complex. Although all of them have a similar understanding of the Hare Krishna philosophy, they employ different de?nitions of Hinduism and act accordingly.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-85
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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