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The Life of Hinduism$
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John Stratton Hawley and Vasudha Narayanan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249134

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249134.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 September 2021

• Death beyond Death

• Death beyond Death

The Ochre Robe

(p.76) 5 • Death beyond Death
The Life of Hinduism

John Stratton Hawley

Vasudha Narayanan

University of California Press

Death can be induced—a death to self that makes a man a renouncer, a sannyasi. This chapter chronicles this sort of death ritual, describing the radical reconstruction of personhood that made it possible to become a sannyasi: ritual death on a full-moon midnight in Banaras's main cremation ground. Brahminical texts position this act of renunciation as the beginning of the fourth and final stage of life, suggesting that one has to have lived through the rest and performed all the duties pertaining thereunto before one has a life truly worth renouncing. For millennia, Hindus have believed that to die in Banaras, city of Shiva and the Ganges, is to secure for oneself the best chance of a favorable rebirth—or, better yet, release from the cycle of birth and death altogether.

Keywords:   death ritual, Hinduism, sannyasi, Banaras, renunciation

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