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The Wrestler's BodyIdentity and Ideology in North India$
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Joseph Alter

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076976

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076976.001.0001

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Gurus and Chelas: The Alchemy of Discipleship

Gurus and Chelas: The Alchemy of Discipleship

(p.58) Chapter 3 Gurus and Chelas: The Alchemy of Discipleship
The Wrestler's Body

Joseph S. Alter

University of California Press

The concept of “guru” has been popularized to the point of parody, and it is difficult to approach the topic without stumbling over stereotypes and misconceptions. Spiritual teachers of all persuasions abound, and even those who espouse truth with conviction suffer the stigma of fraud. Wrestling is not immune to this modern malady, and there are as many charlatans in the akhara as there are in the temple, spiritual retreat, music hall, dance gharana, or any other arena where the institution of guruship prevails. Nevertheless, whether realized or imagined, the persona of the guru is an important concept in the wrestling rubric, in which ideals are more real than actual human experience, and the guru lives more as a figure of speech than as a flesh and blood teacher.

Keywords:   guru, teachers, wrestling, charlatans, akhara, guruship

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