Source of Publication
This paper is based on an ethnographic study which aims to examine female asceticism in the Chaitanya Vaishnava sect, a Hindu devotional school found in the region of Vrindavan in Northwest India. Asceticism, meaning to renounce worldly life, is deeply rooted in Hindu practice. Yet, despite its wide acceptance, female asceticism has remained on the margins of Hindu religious experience. Despite the lack of a model of asceticism for women, scripturally and sociologically, female ascetics are a growing religious group in India. This paper seeks to use empirical data collected during two years of fieldwork to examine how asceticism is articulated and performed by women living in Vrindavan. It builds upon recent interventions in key areas of feminist scholarship and asceticism in South Asia by engaging a religious sect which has received little attention by feminist scholars. This engagement, it is believed, can productively enlarge the field of feminist theologizing and South Asian asceticism.
Arts and Humanities
Female asceticism, Hindu Devotionalism, South Asia
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Taneja, Leena, "Sweet Asceticism: An Ethnographic Study of Female Renouncers in the Chaitanya Vaiṣṇava Tradition" (2022). All Works. 4958.
Indexed in Scopus
Open Access Type
Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series