Journal Article

Singing the glory of asceticism: devotion of asceticism in Jainism

JE Cort

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 70, issue 4, pages 719-742
Published in print December 2002 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online December 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Singing the glory of asceticism: devotion of asceticism in Jainism

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The Jain tradition is commonly portrayed in scholarly literature as being focused on, if not obsessed with, various and oftentimes extreme forms of asceticism. In the resulting scholarly portrait of the Jains, there is little if any place for devotion (bhakti). This scholarly separation of asceticism and devotion, as constituting radically different spheres of religious activity, is not restricted to the Jains but, rather, is widespread in the comparative study of religion. This article places Jain asceticism within a larger Jain religious framework to show some of the ways in which asceticism interacts with, and is often interdependent with, devotion. Asceticism is often performed in a devotional spirit. It is also often the object of devotion. A Jain can accomplish the spiritual goal of an improved karmic balance by performing asceticism him- or herself. A Jain can also accomplish this by praising asceticism with enthusiasm and devotion. This article argues that asceticism and devotion are not so much alternative practices as they are mutually reinforcing practices in Jainism. It also indicates that Jains practice bhakti to abstract principles similarly to the way they practice bhakti to humans and deities, and so we need to expand our scholarly understanding of bhakti and devotion.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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