Crafting Utopias for Spiritual Nationhood: Digested India in Contemporary Self-cultivation Practices in China

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This study examines how India – both as a modern nation-state and a symbolic geography – is digested by Chinese self-cultivators to negotiate their belonging in China’s spiritual nationhood, defined as the landscape of belief that corresponds to the geo-body of the nation-state. It follows the practitioners of Oneness (Heyi), one of the most popular Indian new religious movements in China today, for whom such negotiations are riddled with tensions. While Oneness practitioners align themselves with political orthodoxy disseminated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), emphasizing China’s special role as a spiritual leader for humanity, they engage in quasi-religious heterodox practices, risking being labeled an “evil cult” (xie jiao). These frictions occur at the junction of two contrasting notions of spiritual nationhood, one derived from lingxing (spirituality) and the other from jingshen, a secularized notion of spirit that situates the CCP as the sacred center of the polity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Asian Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)604-631
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 372518076