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Asceticism

Asceticism, from the Greek word askeo (“to exercise”), involves disciplining the body for spiritual purposes. Most global religions include a variety of ascetic practices, such as fasting, chastity, social isolation or withdrawal, sleep deprivation, and other forms of bodily control or even torture. In some religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and non-Protestant Christianity, distinct categories of people known as ascetics have frequently played prominent roles. In other religious traditions such as Judaism their roles have been more circumscribed. Influential ascetic groups are usually given titles specific to their tradition, including monks (in Christianity); sufis or fakirs (in Islam); sadhus, sanyāsins, or babas (in Hinduism); and bhiksus (in Buddhism). However, even when ascetic groups do not figure prominently in a religion, ascetic practices are often a ...

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