nakedness of female ascetics

victor van Bijlert victorvanbijlert at KPNPLANET.NL
Mon Jan 12 11:44:51 UTC 2009

Dear Tim,
I should have realized that in Hindu iconography the Goddess Kali is
sometimes depicted as naked. You might find it useful to consult: david
Gordon White, Kiss of the Yogini: Tantric sex in its South Asian Contexts,
University of Chicago, 2003. I found one reference to nakedness in it:
nagnakabandha, but I have not scrutinized the whole book yet. One could also
perhaps scan the old Imperial Gazetteers and the District Gazetteers for the
United Provinces and the Central Provinces. Perhaps also for Kashmir. The
former two areas witnessed the demise of the ascetic yogi-soldiering culture
around the middle of the nineteenth century. I assume you would find more in
contemporary anthropological writings than perhaps in classical indological
writings on this subject.

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at] Namens Ulrich T. Kragh
Verzonden: vrijdag 9 januari 2009 1:38
Onderwerp: nakedness of female ascetics

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
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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