Indian Asceticism: Power, Violence, and Play

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9780190225315: Indian Asceticism: Power, Violence, and Play

Throughout the history of Indian religions, the ascetic figure is most closely identified with power. A by-product of the ascetic path, power is displayed in the ability to fly, walk on water or through dense objects, read minds, discern the former lives of others, see into the future, harm others, or simply levitate one's body. These tales give rise to questions about how power and violence are related to the phenomenon of play.

Indian Asceticism focuses on the powers exhibited by ascetics of India from ancient to modern time. Carl Olson discusses the erotic, the demonic, the comic, and the miraculous forms of play and their connections to power and violence. He focuses on Hinduism, but evidence is also presented from Buddhism and Jainism, suggesting that the subject matter of this book pervades India's major indigenous religious traditions.

The book includes a look at the extent to which findings in cognitive science can add to our understanding of these various powers; Olson argues that violence is built into the practice of the ascetic. Indian Asceticism culminates with an attempt to rethink the nature of power in a way that does justice to the literary evidence from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain sources.

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About the Author:


Carl Olson is a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny College. Besides numerous essays in journals, books, and encyclopedias, he has published seventeen books on subjects such as Hinduism, Buddhism, comparative philosophy, and method and theory in the study of religion. His most recent books include Celibacy in Religious Traditions and The Allure of Decadent Thinking: Religious Studies and the Challenge of Postmodernism both published by Oxford University Press.

Review:


"lson presents a wide-ranging and sometimes provocative study that works because it combines theoretical explorations with a firm grounding in primary textual sources, and thus stays aloft on the tightrope of applying contemporary theory to culturally specific and mostly premodern material."--Reading Religion


"This is an ambitious, thought-provoking...book. It is a significant addition to the few attempts recently to understand asceticism from a comparative and theoretical perspective. It is well written...He introduces a number of interesting and new perspectives...I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the practice and theory of asceticism, whether in India or elsewhere."--The Journal of Religion


"In this interesting book Professor Olson discusses how asceticism is at the heart of Indian religions, offering forms of practice for the attainment of supernatural powers and spiritual liberation. Not only is this a fascinating account of asceticism in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, it relates these practices to contemporary debate in the human sciences such as about the role of cognition in cultural practice. This clearly written book will be invaluable to students of Indian religions and asceticism." --Gavin Flood, Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion, Oxford University


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Descripción Estado de conservación: New. Oxford University Press, 2015. 304p. Hardback. In this interesting book Professor Olson discusses how asceticism is at the heart of Indian religions, offering forms of practice for the attainment of supernatural powers and spiritual liberation. Not only is this a fascinating account of asceticism in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, it relates these practices to contemporary debate in the human sciences such as about the role of cognition in cultural practice. This clearly written book will be invaluable to students of Indian religions and asceticism. Gavin Flood, Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion, Oxford University |a 13/02/15 (Publisher's information). Condition: New Print on Demand. Printed on Demand. Nº de ref. de la librería 43165

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Olson, Carl
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