Drawing on field research conducted in 2002, 2005 and 2009, this paper will examine how a number of new religious movements in Lithuania are related in different ways to Eastern religious traditions of Asia. The Hindu-based Hare Krishna (ISKCON) movement has been present in Lithuania since the late 1970s, and a Tibetan Buddhist-derived movement called Diamond Way or Karma Kagyu has been active since the late 1990s. In addition to such imported religions, the native Pagan religious movement known as Romuva has been forging links with Hindu organizations and participating in events that relate Baltic Paganism to Hinduism as kindred traditions. This paper will analyze how the imported Hindu and Buddhist religious movements and Romuva’s deepening relationship with Hinduism draw on a long tradition of fascination with Eastern religion in Lithuania, from nineteenth century romanticism, and Indo-European studies to the mysticism of Vydunas, and how Soviet and post-Soviet spiritual hunger and social malaise have inspired a new turning to the East. The paper will also explore how the Hare Krishna, Karma Kagyu and Romuva movements each relate to Eastern spirituality in a different manner, demonstrating different ways of being Lithuanian in the twenty-first century, multicultural context.
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