This study looks at Aum's claims about itself and asks why a religious movement ostensibly focused on yoga, meditation, asceticism, and pursuit of enlightenment became involved in violent activities. Reader places the sect in the context of contemporary Japanese religious patterns, discussing developments in Asahara Shoko's personality and teachings, Aum's millennialism and its developing hostility toward society, and compares Aum with other religious and political movements that turned to violence, both in Japan and elsewhere. He concludes that Aum is not unique, nor is it solely a political or criminal terror group. It must rather be analyzed as an extreme example of a religious movement which, largely due to its own religious characteristics, came into friction with the surrounding society and developed into violence.
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press