Renunciation Reform and Women in Swaminarayan Hinduism
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Renunciation, Reform and Women in Swaminarayan Hinduism is an intellectually rigorous attempt to explore Swaminarayan Hinduism's institution of monasticism and its approach to women. It does so by providing context to understand and appreciate the Swaminarayan tradition's brand of monasticism, focusing on the founding principles of the tradition, and in particular on the meaning and significance of celibacy for its ascetics and the status of women in Hinduism. The book explains how in the early 19th century, Bhagwan Swaminarayan reintroduced the Hindu practice of eight-fold celibacy for his sadhus; thus reconstituting the institution of Hindu asceticism. He established certain boundaries between ascetics and women and between men and women in the context of religious activities. And the way he established them created grounds for women's dignity and independence in an intrinsic sense. He worked out strategies by which Hindus could reclaim their religion and live in accord with its noblest aspirations. Ultimately, this thorough, broad and well-researched book provides a compelling answer to those curious about the movement's attitude towards women.