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Name denoting a ‘regiment’ or ‘division’ of naked warrior- ascetics (Nāgās). Such groups have been in existence since the medieval period, when they were first gathered together by local kings to fight their enemies, to act as guardians of public order, and to protect trade routes in northern India. Originally organized on sectarian principles, ākhāṛās today are often simply associations devoted to physical exercise, meeting in a simple enclosure. Hanumān, who wielded his club on behalf of Rāma, is particularly honoured by contemporary ākhāṛās.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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