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Female Ascetics in Hinduism provides a vivid account of the lives of women renouncers—women who renounce the world to live ascetic spiritual lives—in India. The author approaches the study of female asceticism by focusing on features of two dharmas, two religiously defined ways of life: that of woman-as-householder and that of the ascetic, who, for various reasons, falls outside the realm of householdership. The result of fieldwork conducted in Vaµran|aµsi (Benares), the book explores renouncers’ social and personal backgrounds, their institutions, and their ways of life. Offering a first-hand look at and an insightful analysis of this little-known world, this highly readable book will be indispensable to those interested in female asceticism in the Hindu tradition and women’s spiritual lives around the world.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. p. v
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  1. Foreword
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-22
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  1. 1. The Religious Life of Woman-as-householder
  2. pp. 23-40
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  1. 2. The Woman Who Is Not a Householder: Widowhood, Unmarriageability, and Female Asceticism
  2. pp. 41-56
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  1. 3. Unity and Diversity I: Basic Terminology
  2. pp. 57-76
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  1. 4. Unity and Diversity II: Sectarian Affiliation, Spiritual Path, and Ascetic Mode
  2. pp. 77-102
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  1. 5. Socioreligious Aspects of Female Asceticism in Varanasi
  2. pp. 103-138
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  1. 6. Sainthood, Society, and Transcendence: Legends and Poetry of Women Saints
  2. pp. 139-166
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 167-188
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  1. Glossary of Hinduand Sanskrit Terms
  2. pp. 189-190
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 191-202
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  1. Supplemental Bibliography
  2. pp. 203-208
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 209-218
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