chapter  4
Pages 36

The focus of this chapter is the self-identity of the NKT. A preliminary discussion about the dynamics of history and identity construction within new religious movements (NRMs) provides a framework for analysing the multiple ‘histories’ that exist on an individual and public group level within the organisation. The organisation’s rhetoric of decentralisation is contextualised against the history of institutional conflict detailed in the previous chapter. Key elements of the NKT’s sense of self-identity, such as its emphasis on purity and exclusivism, are examined in detail, and the extent to which they affect the movement’s orientation towards expansion, adaptation and engagement is considered. The NKT’s reliance upon the controversial protective deity Dorje Shugden is also discussed, and its high-profile participation in a dispute concerning this practice that erupted in 1996 both in India and in the West is outlined. In conclusion, the NKT is presented as a contemporary Buddhist movement that is rooted firmly within traditional Gelug exclusivism but which simultaneously reflects and reacts against the conditions of modernity.