By Alain Daniélou
Alain Danielou ways the historical past of India in the course of the enduring associations of its tradition that experience formed its future. His synthesis and narration create a completely enticing and readable trip via time, with a degree of element and comprehensiveness that's actually a wonder. Winner of the Broquette-Gonin Prix de l'Academie Francaise.
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Extra resources for A Brief History of India
When particular orders or individual renouncers were seen as having moved too far from the ascetic ideal, they were denounced, and sometimes individuals dissatisfied with monastic life took a solitary path in search of salvation. Even today it is not uncommon for renouncers to leave their sectarian institution for a lone path, and this move may involve an implicit or explicit critique of monastic and sectarian religiosity. Anand Mata, for example, left the camaraderie of fellow disciples in her guru’s metropolitan ashram and began an intense discipline of silence and solitude.
That the householder and renouncer follow incompatible sets of values has also been widely accepted in the scholarship of India, though some scholars have brought attention to the ways in which Indian thought has attempted to resolve the contradiction (see, for example, O’Flaherty 1981:78–79). The householder-renouncer opposition has become central to anthropological and indological understandings of Hindu culture. Imbedded within this opposition as it has come to be used is the following set of analogies: Renouncer Otherworldly Ascetic Withdrawal Male World of Asceticism : : : : : : : : Householder Worldly Social Engagement Female World of Domesticity Focusing on sannyasinis requires disentangling this dichotomous framework, which renders them logical impossibilities.
Several renouncers I met explained detachment using the metaphor of fruit ripening on a tree. A tree automatically drops or “renounces” its fruit when the fruit becomes ripe, while unripe fruit must be forcibly plucked. Similarly, persons who feel detachment toward worldly life simply and easily let go of it, since it holds no meaning for them. Such a person is “ripe” for sannyasa compared to someone who is still attached to family, sensual pleasures, possessions and status, and must, therefore, wrench themselves away from worldly life.
A Brief History of India by Alain Daniélou