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An Evolutionary Theory of Spiritual Conversion and Commitment: The Case of Divine Light Mission

James V. Downton, Jr.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 19, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 381-396
DOI: 10.2307/1386132
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386132
Page Count: 16
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An Evolutionary Theory of Spiritual Conversion and Commitment: The Case of Divine Light Mission
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Abstract

Contrary to the widespread popular belief that conversion is a radical change of personality, this article offers the alternative view of conversion and commitment as being evolutionary in their development. Based on intensive interviews with the followers of Guru Maharaj Ji, the guru of Divine Light Mission, it traces the stages and steps followers took in becoming devotees. Examined sequentially, these stages and steps are viewed as a theoretical structure for the comparative analysis of other religious movements and the stages are briefly compared to the theory of conversion offered by Lofland and Stark.

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