Accepted paper:

Health and spirituality in post-secular societies: the particular case of the Hare Krishna movement


Néstor Nuño Martñinez (ARESIMA)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws a first approximation to the issue of Hare Krishna’s health perceptions. This construction employs dimensions interrelated which aim to improve the spiritual practice. This perception needs to be considered carefully, because some conflicts with biomedical practitioners can emerge.

Paper long abstract:

The study of religion has been a relevant issue in social sciences. In the middle of the twentieth century, the hegemonic theories used to date were overcome owing to the emergence in of the so-called new religious movements. One of these, the Hare Krishna cult, has been studied during the last forty years. Through different researches, an overview of their cosmological beliefs, gender principles, worship practices, political structure, or internal conflicts has been drawn. Nevertheless, a specific analysis of Hare Krishna devotees' health perceptions has been neglected. This paper aims to introduce these principles to compose a useful theoretical scheme to comprehend the establishment and consolidation in Westerns societies of the conjunction between medicine, religion, and spirituality. In this sense, health construction of Hare Krishna employs three dimensions: body, spirit, and mind. All the dimensions are interrelated and they have as main purpose to improve the spiritual practice. Hare Krishna devotees relate the notion of health with the possibility of performing a correct spiritual practice. This implies that devotees attitudes traditionally described as "deviated" under biomedical principles are healthy in devotees' perception. Moreover, this perception of health needs to be considered carefully. It encompasses dimensions out of the border of biomedicine and some conflicts with biomedical practitioners can emerge. Therefore, Hare Krishna devotees try to find and promote alternatives to meet their medical needs. Some of them are based on Ayurveda; others can be framed into the Complementary and Alternative Medicine which importance is being increasing in Western societies.

panel P62
Religious life and medical traditions