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Hindu and Buddhist AsceticismConclusion

While renunciation of the world and asceticism have had a huge influence on Indian religions, it must be remembered that the more extreme practices have always been limited to the very few, the religious virtuosi. Also, these world-denying and self-abnegating practices have always coexisted with equally or more powerful strains in these traditions valorizing a worldly life and, to some extent, material goals. The ascetic quality of Indian religions has often been exaggerated, even caricatured, at the expense of a more realistic portrait—one that admits the impact of asceticism on these traditions while contextualizing such practices and values within what have always been complex and varied religious traditions.


Bhagat, M. G. Ancient Indian Asceticism. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1976.

Bronkhorst, Johannes. The Two Sources of Indian Asceticism. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

Chakraborti, Haripada. Asceticism in Ancient India in Brahmanical, Buddhist, Jaina, and Ajivika Societies, from the Earliest Times to the Period of Śankarāchārya. Calcutta: Punthi Pusak, 1973.

Doniger, Wendy. Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Dutt, Sukumar. Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History and Their Contribution to Indian Culture. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962.

Eliade, Mircea. Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. 2nd ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969.

Embree, Ainslie T., ed. The Hindu Tradition: Readings in Oriental Thought. New York: Vintage, 1972.

Manu. The Laws of Manu. Translated by Wendy Doniger, with Brian K. Smith. London: Penguin Books, 1991.

Olivelle, Patrick. The Āśrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Brian Smith

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Anticolonialism in Southeast Asia - Categories And Features Of Anticolonialism to Ascorbic acidAsceticism - Hindu and Buddhist Asceticism - Asceticism In Hinduism, Asceticism In Buddhism, Asceticism In Jainism, Conclusion, Bibliography