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Indian AsceticismPower, Violence, and Play$
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Carl Olson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190225315

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190225315.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Indian Asceticism

Carl Olson

Oxford University Press

After placing the notion of power within a broad religious, cross-cultural context, this chapter examines the nature of asceticism, the relationship between culture and asceticism, the role of the human body, the ways that the body is marked to distinguish it, female ascetic bodies, the role of celibacy, and finally asceticism and its relationship to pain. The nature of narrative is defined along with hagiography. This chapter also examines why an ascetic experiences his/her body in a paradoxical way, how veins provide a symbolic road map of the ascetic’s body and different reasons for either shaving the head or growing long hair. The chapter also reviews how women ascetics mark their bodies. Finally, the plan of the study is discussed to provide some guidance for a reader.

Keywords:   asceticism, culture, body, female ascetics, celibacy, pain, narrative, hagiography

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