nakedness of female ascetics

Ulrich T. Kragh utkragh at HUM.KU.DK
Fri Jan 9 00:37:33 UTC 2009

Dear Indology-List,
I have been working on a number of 8th-9th century Buddhist Tantric texts from NW Pakistan (Swat valley) written by female authors. One of the sAdhanas specifies that the practitioner should keep the hair loose, keep silent and be naked. From the context within the text, this appears to be a general rule of behavior, and not simply an advice on how to act during the ritual itself.
It made me wonder about the nakedness of female ascetics in general, whether in the past or today. I am aware of the nakedness of some male ascetics, such as modern-day male sAdhus and some Jain monks, but are there generally speaking cases of female ascetics moving about naked in Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism? In the cases I know of today, female ascetics do not practice nakedness. 
Dr. Ulrich Timme Kragh
Assistant Professor
Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies
Geumgang University, Dae-myeong Ri, Sang-wol Myeon
Nonsan-si, Chungnam 320-931, Republic of Korea
Tel. +82-41-731 3618

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