nakedness of female ascetics

Elizabeth De Michelis elizabeth.demichelis at ORIEL.OX.AC.UK
Fri Jan 9 21:36:35 UTC 2009

Dear Tim,

_The Mystics, Ascetics, and Saints of India. A Study of Sadhuism,  
with an Account of the Yogis, Sanyasis, Bairagis, and other strange  
Hindu Sectarians_  By John Campbell Oman, Published by Adamant Media  
Corporation, ISBN 1402167466, 9781402167461
[orig pub. London, T F Unwin, 1903]

has a brief passage narrating his encounter with a small group of  
sadhus including a semi-naked (waist up) female sannyasini. There is  
also a photo of the group (fig 13 facing page 229). There are  
interesting reactions from the local population (taking darsan and  
giving offering), while 'modernist' members of the Arya Samay are  
outraged by the sadhus' nakedness.

I can see the work (including photos) on Google book search.

Best regards
Elizabeth De Michelis

Dr Elizabeth De Michelis
Oriel College, Oriel Square,
Oxford, UK         OX1 4EW
email: elizabeth.demichelis at

On 9 Jan 2009, at 00:37, Ulrich T. Kragh wrote:

> 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.
> Sincerely,
> Tim
> 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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