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By Sondra L. Hausner

During this relocating ethnographic portrait of Hindu renouncers -- sadhus or ascetics -- in northern India and Nepal, Sondra L. Hausner considers a paradox that shapes their lives: whereas ostensibly outlined by means of their solitary non secular perform, the stripping away of social commitments, and their holiday with relatives and neighborhood, renouncers actually frequently engage with "householder" society. They shape a certain, replacement neighborhood with its personal inner constitution, yet person who is no longer situated in any unmarried position. hugely cellular and dispersed around the subcontinent, its participants are usually introduced jointly via pilgrimage circuits on competition cycles. Drawing on a long time of fieldwork, Hausner provides intimate graphics of person sadhus as she examines the shared perspectives of area, time, and the physique that create the floor for daily event. Written with an notable mix of empathy, compassion, and anthropological perception, this examine will attract students, scholars, and basic readers alike.

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She was a well-respected figure among members of the Hardwar renouncer community (including the men), and a steady flow of local and traveling renouncers visited her tent. Mai, or Mātājī, as women renouncers are known, was neither particularly interested in my interview questions nor particularly verbal, but she was welcoming, and I visited her often when I returned to Hardwar in 2000. Spending time at Rādhā Giri’s home place meant that I could watch for myself how she lived her daily life, and speak with the revolving cast of renouncers who came to visit her tent on their way up to or down from the mountain pilgrimage routes.

I first met Bābā at the 1998 Kumbh Melā in Hardwar (he had met other members of my family at the 1989 Allahabad Kumbh Melā), and Hardwar remained one of his home bases. When I returned to Hardwar in September 2000, I bumped into him on the street and soon after moved into the small hotel where he had lived on and off for years. There I could visit him daily, take evening walks with him, and wash our dishes if he cooked me lunch, as he often did. Introduction • 25 I also met Rādhā Giri at the 1998 Kumbh Melā in Hardwar.

14 20 • Wandering with Sadhus Beginning my research by working with women broke down certain barriers for me as a fieldworker, however, which eventually opened up the larger field. I felt more comfortable with women renouncers than I did with men, and they were more open with and accepting of me. 15 Most importantly, working with women immediately defused some of the tensions around gender and sexuality that were part of my research agenda, but that were inevitably heightened when a lone young woman arrived at the sacred fire-pit of an exclusively male lineage, as I did many times over the course of fieldwork.

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