Globalization and asceticism

Foreign ascetics on the threshold of Hindu religious orders

Authored by: Daniela Bevilacqua

Routledge International Handbook of Religion in Global Society

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138182509
eBook ISBN: 9781315646435
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter analyses the increasing presence of foreign ascetics in Hindu traditional ascetic orders. While in the middle of the 20th century the initiation of a foreigner into one of these orders was quite exceptional, today more and more gurus accept such disciples. This increased interest on the part of foreigners—and on the part of Indian gurus—results from the new possibilities of cultural and religious exchange offered by globalization as well as a revolution in travel and communication. Together, these have allowed individuals to overcome strict identities. The chapter provides ethnographic sketches of foreign ascetics in order to illuminate the changes occurring in traditional ascetic orders, here categorized as Modern Hindu Traditionalism. A comparison with Neo-Hinduism will be presented to stress similarities and differences and to trace a comprehensive outline of the ascetic side of contemporary Hinduism.

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