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Singh, Janardan P. (1960) History of Indian asceticism in pre-Buddhistic times. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is concerned with the origins and the development of Indian asceticism before the time of the Buddha. In: the first chapter we have tried to define the concept of asceticism and fix its typology. We have included the practices of Upasana and Yoga in asceticism. The second chapter is devoted to the study of asceticism in the Indus Civilisation and in the Samhitas. We have taken each Samhita separately and studied tapas. vata, svama and other terms which may have a bearing on the subject in the context of the cultural material as revealed in that particular samhita. We have studied also such personalities as the muni, yati and vatya. In dealing with the vatya We have concentrated only on the book XV of the Av, leaving aside the materials found in the Brahmanas for the second chapter. This has involved a general criticism of the views of the scholars who have worked on the subject, and a re-appraisal of the AV.XV. which has led to quite different results. In the third chapter we have again dealt with the terms seen in the Brahmanas. Along with this we have studied the sacrificial practises involving austerities such as fasting, dietary regulations, keeping vigil and so forth. These regulations are not only observed separately but axe gathered together in the Diksa ritual which has been treated exhaustively. We have suggested that the diksa was the arche-type of later austerities. In this period new ascetic personalities such as the Carakas and the Vaikhanasas appeared. The Vatyas-have, been again dealt with exhaustively and have been found to be an organised community containing shaman-like priests. It has been ten-tatively suggested that they might be identified with the people of the copper hoards of the Gangetic valley. In the fourth chapter we have treated the material found in the Aranyakas and the Upanisads together. We find new developments in the ascetic mode of living. Asceticism comes predominantly to mean self-discipline, beside the earlier conception of asceticism as self-mortification. Though the ascetic mode of living was accepted in later Vedic society, had not been integrated as a social institution in the framework of the aszama system. The practices of Upasana and Yoga are seen to be well-developed by the end of this period. The fifth chapter gives a short summary of the views put forward in the earlier chapters and a short comparison of the conclusions arrived at: with the Jaina and the Buddhist evidence.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:12

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