Volume 18, December 2013
Samta P. Pandya
Saibaba Phenomenon in South Asia and Beyond
Faith Teachers and Sociality
In this paper I have examined the Saibaba phenomenon which originated in India and now has a global influence. Through fieldwork, I build on the life and works of three faith teachers (gurus) who have contributed to the Sai movement to forward my thesis that sociality and hence tangible social service is an important means to gain legitimacy, social standing and as a response to late modernity. I begin by giving an overview of the Sai phenomena and its peculiarities in terms of syncretism, bricolage and aspects of global proliferation. I then discuss how sociality is a strategy for this genre of faith movement and its implications. Finally I propose that sociality has become a metaphor of Sai sacrality.