A gurukula or gurukulām was a type of education system in ancient India with shishya living near or with the guru, in the same house. The guru-shishya tradition is a sacred one in Hinduism and appears in other religious groups in India, such as Jainism and Sikhism; the word gurukula is a combination of the Sanskrit words kula. Before the arrival of British rule, they served as South Asia's primary educational system; the term is used today to refer to residential monasteries or schools operated by modern gurus. The proper plural of the term is gurukulam, though gurukulas and gurukuls are used in English and some other Western languages. In a gurukula, the students living together are considered as equals, irrespective of their social standing, they learn from the guru and help the guru in his everyday life, including carrying out of mundane daily household chores. However, some scholars suggest that the activities are not mundane and essential part of the education to inculcate self-discipline among students.
A guru does not receive or accept any fees from the shishya studying with him as the relationship between a guru and the shishya is considered sacred. At the end of one's education, a shishya offers the guru dakshina before leaving the gurukula; the gurudakshina is a traditional gesture of acknowledgment and thanks to the guru, which may be monetary, but may be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish. While living in a gurukula, the students would be away from their home from a period of months to years at a stretch and disconnected from their family completely. Acharyakulam is implemented on the same concept of Gurukul system. For the Complete understanding of Indian Native Sanskrit Language, With the overall understanding of Ved-Vedanga, Upanishad, Vedic Culture and samskaras, gained proficiency in English Language, Mathematics, art and Sports; the gurukula system of education has been in existence since ancient times. The Upanishads mention multiple gurukulam, including that of guru Drona at Gurgaon.
The Bhrigu Valli is said to have taken place in Guru Varuni's gurukula. The vedic school of thought prescribes the gurukula to all individuals before the age of 8 at least by 12. From initiation until the age of 25 all individuals are prescribed to be students and to remain unmarried, a celibate. Gurukulam were supported by public donations; this was followed by the many following Vedic thoughts making gurukula one of the earliest forms of public school centres. By the colonial era, the gurukula system was on a steep decline in India. Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj and Swami Shraddhanand, were the pioneers of the modern gurukula system, who in 1886 founded now-widespread Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Public Schools and Universities. In 1948, Shastriji Maharaj Shree Dharamjivan das Swami followed suit and initiated first Swaminarayan gurukula in Rajkot in Gujarat state of India. Several gurukulam have opened up in India as well as overseas with a desire to uphold tradition. Today various gurukulam still exist in India, researchers have been studying the effectiveness of the system through those institutions
Hindu deities are the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. The terms and epithets for deity within the diverse traditions of Hinduism vary, include Deva, Ishvara, Bhagavān and Bhagavati; the deities of Hinduism have evolved from the Vedic era through the medieval era, regionally within Nepal, India and in southeast Asia, across Hinduism's diverse traditions. The Hindu deity concept varies from a personal god as in Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, to 33 Vedic deities, to hundreds of Puranics of Hinduism. Illustrations of major deities include Parvati, Sri, Sati and Saraswati; these deities have distinct and complex personalities, yet are viewed as aspects of the same Ultimate Reality called Brahman. From ancient times, the idea of equivalence has been cherished for all Hindus, in its texts and in early 1st millennium sculpture with concepts such as Harihara, Ardhanārīshvara, with myths and temples that feature them together, declaring they are the same. Major deities have inspired their own Hindu traditions, such as Vaishnavism and Shaktism, but with shared mythology, ritual grammar, theosophy and polycentrism.
Some Hindu traditions such as Smartism from mid 1st millennium AD, have included multiple major deities as henotheistic manifestations of Saguna Brahman, as a means to realizing Nirguna Brahman. Hindu deities are represented with various icons and anicons, in paintings and sculptures, called Murtis and Pratimas; some Hindu traditions, such as ancient Charvakas rejected all deities and concept of god or goddess, while 19th-century British colonial era movements such as the Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj rejected deities and adopted monotheistic concepts similar to Abrahamic religions. Hindu deities have been adopted in other religions such as Jainism, in regions outside India such as predominantly Buddhist Thailand and Japan where they continue to be revered in regional temples or arts. In ancient and medieval era texts of Hinduism, the human body is described as a temple, deities are described to be parts residing within it, while the Brahman is described to be the same, or of similar nature, as the Atman, which Hindus believe is eternal and within every living being.
Deities in Hinduism are as diverse as its traditions, a Hindu can choose to be polytheistic, monotheistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist. Deities in Hinduism are referred to as Devi; the root of these terms mean "heavenly, anything of excellence". According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean "a shining one," from *div- "to shine," and it is a cognate with Greek dios "divine" and Zeus, Latin deus. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. By the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are referred to as Suras and contrasted with their powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras. Hindu deities are part of Indian mythology, both Devas and Devis feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism. In Vedic literature and Devis represent the forces of nature and some represent moral values, each symbolizing the epitome of a specialized knowledge, creative energy and magical powers.
The most referred to Devas in the Rig Veda are Indra and Soma, with "fire deity" called the friend of all humanity, it and Soma being the two celebrated in a yajna fire ritual that marks major Hindu ceremonies. Savitr, Vishnu and Prajapati are gods and hence Devas; the Vedas describes a number of significant Devis such as Ushas, Aditi, Saraswati, Vāc, Nirṛti, Ratri and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Puramdhi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the Rigveda. Sri called Lakshmi, appears in late Vedic texts dated to be pre-Buddhist, but verses dedicated to her do not suggest that her characteristics were developed in the Vedic era. All gods and goddesses are distinguished in the Vedic times, but in the post-Vedic texts, in the early medieval era literature, they are seen as aspects or manifestations of one Brahman, the Supreme power. Ananda Coomaraswamy states that Devas and Asuras in the Vedic lore are similar to Angels-Theoi-Gods and Titans of Greek mythology, both are powerful but have different orientations and inclinations, the Devas representing the powers of Light and the Asuras representing the powers of Darkness in Hindu mythology.
According to Coomaraswamy's interpretation of Devas and Asuras, both these natures exist in each human being, the tyrant and the angel is within each being, the best and the worst within each person struggles before choices and one's own nature, the Hindu formulation of Devas and Asuras is an eternal dance between these within each person. The Devas and Asuras and Titans, powers of Light and powers of Darkness in Rigveda, although distinct and opposite in operation, are in essence consubstantial, their distinction being a matter not of essence but of orientation, revolution or transformation. In this case, the Titan is an Angel, the Angel still by nature a Titan.
Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa; the epic, traditionally ascribed to the Hindu Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. It follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest from the kingdom, by his father King Dasharatha, on request of his second wife Kaikeyi, his travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of his wife by Ravana, the great king of Lanka, resulting in a war with him, Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king. There have been many attempts to unravel the epic's historical growth and compositional layers; the Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses, divided into about 500 sargas. In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the adi-kavya, it depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king.
Ramayana was an important influence on Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata, Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements; the characters Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Sri Lanka, south-east Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist and Jain adaptations. There are Cambodian, Filipino, Lao and Malaysian versions of the tale; the name Ramayana is a tatpuruṣa compound of the name Rāma. According to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana itself, the epic belongs to the genre of itihasa like Mahabharata; the definition of itihāsa is a narrative of past events which includes teachings on the goals of human life. According to Hindu tradition, Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga. In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses.
The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest of, a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century CE. A Times of India report dated 18 December 2015 informs about the discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of the Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata; the Ramayana text has several regional renderings and sub recensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional revisions: the southern. Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind." There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last volumes of Valmiki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe they are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book. Retellings include Kamban's Ramavataram in Tamil, Gona Budda Reddy's Ramayanam in Telugu, Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese, Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan in Bengali, Sarala Das' Vilanka Ramayana and Balaram Das' Dandi Ramayana both in Odia, sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan in Marathi, Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas in Awadhi and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam.
Ramayana predates Mahabharata. However, the general cultural background of Ramayana is one of the post-urbanization periods of the eastern part of north India and Nepal, while Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period. By tradition, the text belongs to second of the four eons of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the Treta Yuga to king Dasharatha in the Ikshvaku dynasty; the names of the characters are all known in late Vedic literature. However, nowhere in the surviving Vedic poetry is there a story similar to the Ramayana of Valmiki. According to the modern academic view, who, according to Bala Kanda, was incarnated as Rama, first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the puranic period of the 1st millennium CE. In the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana; this version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira. Books two to six form the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books are additions, as some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the book.
The author or authors of Bala Kanda and Ayodhya Kanda appear to be familiar with the eastern Gangetic basin region of northern India and with the Kosala and Magadha regions during the period of the sixteen Mahajanapadas, based on the fact that the geographical and geopolitical data accords with what is known about the region. Dasharatha is father of Rama, he has three queens, Kausalya, Ka
Homa is a Sanskrit word that refers to a ritual, wherein an oblation or any religious offering is made into fire. A homa is sometimes called a "sacrifice ritual" because the fire destroys the offering, but a homa is more a "votive ritual"; the fire is the agent, the offerings include those that are material and symbolic such as grains, clarified butter, milk and seeds. It is rooted in the Vedic religion, was adopted in ancient times by Buddhism and Jainism; the practice spread from India to East Asia and Southeast Asia. Homa rituals remain an important part of many Hindu ceremonies, variations of homa continue to be practiced in current-day Buddhism in parts of Tibet and Japan, it is found in modern Jainism. A homa ritual is known by alternative names, such as yajna in Hinduism which sometimes means larger public fire rituals, or jajnavidhana or goma in Buddhism. In modern times, a homa or havana tends to be a private ritual around a symbolic fire, such as those observed at a wedding; the Sanskrit word homa is from the root hu, which refers to "pouring into fire, sacrifice".
Homa traditions are found all across Asia, over a 3000-year history. A homa, in all its Asian variations, is a ceremonial ritual that offers food to fire and is linked to the traditions contained in the Vedic religion; the tradition reflects a reverence for fire and cooked food that developed in Asia, the Brahmana layers of the Vedas are the earliest records of this ritual reverence. The yajñā or fire sacrifice became a distinct feature of the early śruti rituals. A śrauta ritual is a form of quid pro quo where through the fire ritual, a sacrificer offered something to the gods and goddesses, the sacrificer expected something in return; the Vedic ritual consisted of sacrificial offerings of something edible or drinkable, such as milk, clarified butter, rice, barley, an animal, or anything of value, offered to the gods with the assistance of fire priests. This Vedic tradition split into Smarta; the homa ritual practices were observed by different Buddhist and Jaina traditions, states Phyllis Granoff, with their texts appropriating the "ritual eclecticism" of Hindu traditions, albeit with variations that evolved through medieval times.
The homa-style Vedic sacrifice ritual, states Musashi Tachikawa, was absorbed into Mahayana Buddhism and homa rituals continue to be performed in some Buddhist traditions in Tibet and Japan. The homa ritual grammar is common to many sanskara ceremonies in various Hindu traditions; the Vedic fire ritual, at the core of various homa ritual variations in Hinduism, is a "bilaterally symmetrical" structure of a rite. It combines fire and water, burnt offerings and soma, fire as masculine and water as feminine, the fire vertical and reaching upwards, while the altar and liquids being horizontal; the homa ritual's altar is itself a symmetry, most a square, a design principle, at the heart of temples and mandapas in Indian religions. The sequence of homa ritual events from beginning to end, are structured around the principles of symmetry; the forms and means of offerings, states Michael Witzel, are symbol of the masculine and feminine, such as ghee offered into the fire from a ladle ritually shaped in form of a yoni.
The fire-altar is made of brick or stone or a copper vessel, is always built for the occasion, being dismantled afterwards. This fire-altar is invariably built in square shape. While large vedis are built for major public homas, the usual altar may be as small as 1 × 1 foot square and exceeds 3 × 3 feet square. A ritual space of homa, the altar is movable; the first step in a homa ritual is the construction of the ritual enclosure, the last step is its deconstruction. The altar and mandapa is consecrated by a priest, creating a sacred space for the ritual ceremony, with recitation of mantras. With hymns sung, the fire is started, offerings collected; the sacrificer enters, symbolically cleanses himself or herself, with water, joins the homa ritual, gods invited, prayers recited, conch shell blown. The sacrificers pour offerings and libations with hymns sung, to the sounds of svaha; the oblations and offerings consist of clarified butter, curd, saffron, coconut, perfumed water, seeds and herbs. The altar and the ritual is a symbolic representation of the Hindu cosmology, a link between reality and the worlds of gods and living beings.
The ritual is a symmetric exchange, a "quid pro quo", where humans offer something to the gods through the medium of fire, in return expect that the gods will reciprocate with strength and that which they have power to influence. The homa ritual of consecrated fire is found in some Buddhist traditions of Tibet and Japan, its roots are the Vedic ritual, it evokes Buddhist deities, is performed by qualified Buddhist priests. In Chinese translations of Buddhist texts such as Kutadanta Sutta and Suttanipata, dated to be from the 6th to 8th century, the Vedic homa practice is attributed to Buddha's endorsement along with the claim that Buddha was the original teacher of the Vedas in his previous lives. In some Buddhist homa traditions, such as in Japan, the central deity invoked in this ritual is Acalanātha. Acalanātha is another name for the god Rudra in the Vedic tradition, for Vajrapani or Chakdor in Tibetan traditions, of Sotshirvani in Siber
Divine Life Society
The Divine Life Society is a Hindu spiritual organisation and an ashram, founded by Swami Sivananda Saraswati in 1936, at Muni Ki Reti, India. Today it has branches across the headquarters being situated in Rishikesh. Many disciples of Swami Sivananda have started independent organisations in Mauritius, the US, Canada, South Africa, South America, Europe, its aim is to disseminate spiritual knowledge in the following ways: through publication of books and magazines on the subjects of Yoga and Vedanta holding and arranging spiritual conferences and discourses establishing training centers for the practice of Yoga enabling aspirants to develop their spiritual lives via systematic training in yoga and philosophy establishing charitable organisations through the preservation of the ancient traditions and cultural practices of India In 1936, after returning from a pilgrimage, Swami Sivananda stayed in an old hut on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. Other disciples desirous of his company stayed with him in difficult circumstances.
He started the Divine Life Society to serve mankind. The King of Tehri Garhwal granted him a plot of land to construct the present day Shivanandashram. Chidananda Saraswati served as president of the society from August 1963 to 28 August 2008, while Krishnananda Saraswati served as the General-Secretary of the Society in Rishikesh from 1958 until 2001. Sivananda Ashram is the headquarters of the Divine Life Society. Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy trains seekers in the practice of yoga as a general discipline for personal integration as well as for human welfare. Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy Press prints the cultural and spiritual books as well as the journals and other literature of the Divine Life Society. Sivananda Publication League is the publishing arm of the Divine Life Society; the Free Literature Section distributes books and other literature to seekers and aspirants worldwide. Sivananda Charitable Hospital renders free medical service to the public and conducts periodical medical relief camps freely.
Sivananda Home Takes care of food and medical needs of Destitute Patients Branches are found in Australia, Malaysia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago Survey of Hindu organisations Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: A Paradigm of the "secularism," "puritanism" and "cultural Dissimulation" of a Neo-Hindu Religious Society, by Robert John Fornaro. Published by Syracuse University, 1969. From man to God-man: the inspiring life-story of Swami Sivananda, by N. Ananthanarayanan. Published by Indian Publ. Trading Corp. 1970. Swami Sivananda and the Divine Life Society: An Illustration of Revitalization Movement, by Satish Chandra Gyan. Published by s.n, 1979. Swami Sivananda's books The official website of Divine Life Society The other official website of Divine Life Society Swami Krishnananda, former General Secretary of the Divine Life Society
A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone. A monastery includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, may serve as an oratory. Monasteries vary in size, comprising a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex comprises a number of buildings which include a church, cloister, library and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community; these may include a hospice, a school, a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge, or a brewery. In English usage, the term monastery is used to denote the buildings of a community of monks.
In modern usage, convent tends to be applied only to institutions of female monastics communities of teaching or nursing religious sisters. A convent denoted a house of friars, now more called a friary. Various religions may apply these terms in more specific ways; the word monastery comes from the Greek word μοναστήριον, neut. of μοναστήριος – monasterios from μονάζειν – monazein "to live alone" from the root μόνος – monos "alone". The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the 1st century AD Jewish philosopher Philo in On The Contemplative Life, ch. III. In England the word monastery was applied to the habitation of a bishop and the cathedral clergy who lived apart from the lay community. Most cathedrals were not monasteries, were served by canons secular, which were communal but not monastic. However, some were run by monasteries orders, such as York Minster. Westminster Abbey was for a short time a cathedral, was a Benedictine monastery until the Reformation, its Chapter preserves elements of the Benedictine tradition.
See the entry cathedral. They are to be distinguished from collegiate churches, such as St George's Chapel, Windsor. In most of this article, the term monastery is used generically to refer to any of a number of types of religious community. In the Roman Catholic religion and to some extent in certain branches of Buddhism, there is a somewhat more specific definition of the term and many related terms. Buddhist monasteries are called vihara. Viharas may be occupied by men or women, in keeping with common English usage, a vihara populated by females may be called a nunnery or a convent. However, vihara can refer to a temple. In Tibetan Buddhism, monasteries are called gompa. In Thailand and Cambodia, a monastery is called a wat. In Burma, a monastery is called a kyaung. A Christian monastery may be a priory, or conceivably a hermitage, it may be a community of men or of women. A charterhouse is any monastery belonging to the Carthusian order. In Eastern Christianity, a small monastic community can be called a skete, a large or important monastery can be given the dignity of a lavra.
The great communal life of a Christian monastery is called cenobitic, as opposed to the anchoretic life of an anchorite and the eremitic life of a hermit. There has been under the Osmanli occupation of Greece and Cyprus, an "idiorrhythmic" lifestyle where monks come together but being able to own things individually and not being obliged to work for the common good. In Hinduism monasteries are called matha, koil, or most an ashram. Jains use the Buddhist term vihara. In most religions the life inside monasteries is governed by community rules that stipulate the gender of the inhabitants and require them to remain celibate and own little or no personal property; the degree to which life inside a particular monastery is separate from the surrounding populace can vary widely. Others focus on interacting with the local communities to provide services, such as teaching, medical care, or evangelism; some monastic communities are only occupied seasonally, depending both on the traditions involved and the local weather, people may be part of a monastic community for periods ranging from a few days at a time to an entire lifetime.
The life within the walls of a monastery may be supported in several ways: by manufacturing and selling goods agricultural products, by donations or alms, by rental or investment incomes, by funds from other organizations within the religion, which in the past formed the traditional support of monasteries. There has been a long tradition of Christian monasteries providing hospitable and hospital services. Monasteries have been associated with the provision of education and the encouragement of scholarship and research, which has led to the establishment of schools and colleges and the association with universities. Christian monastic life has adapted to modern society by offering computer services, accounting services and management as well as modern hospital and educational administration. Buddhist monasteries, known as vihāra i
Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their practices or continue to be part of their society, but adopt a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, time spent fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters. Asceticism has been observed in many religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Contemporary mainstream Islam practices asceticism in the form of fasting during Ramadan by abstaining from all sensual pleasures, including food and water from sunrise until sunset; the observation of fasting during Ramadan is purely done for God and to increase one's spiritual connection with God. Sufi tradition has included strict asceticism throughout history; the practitioners of these religions abandoned sensual pleasures and led an abstinent lifestyle, in the pursuit of redemption, salvation or spirituality.
Asceticism is seen in the ancient theologies as a journey towards spiritual transformation, where the simple is sufficient, the bliss is within, the frugal is plenty. Inversely, several ancient religious traditions, such as Zoroastrianism, Ancient Egyptian Religion and the Dionysian Mysteries, as well as more modern Left Hand traditions reject ascetic practises and focus on various types of hedonism; the adjective "ascetic" derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis, which means "training" or "exercise". The original usage did not refer to self-denial, but to the physical training required for athletic events, its usage extended to rigorous practices used in many major religious traditions, in varying degrees, to attain redemption and higher spirituality. Dom Cuthbert Butler classified asceticism into natural and unnatural forms: "Natural asceticism" involves a lifestyle which reduces material aspects of life to the utmost simplicity and to a minimum; this may include minimal, simple clothing, sleeping on a floor or in caves, eating a simple minimal amount of food.
Natural asceticism, state Wimbush and Valantasis, does not include maiming the body or harsher austerities that make the body suffer. "Unnatural asceticism", in contrast, covers practices that go further, involves body mortification, punishing one's own flesh, habitual self-infliction of pain, such as by sleeping on a bed of nails. Self-discipline and abstinence in some form and degree are parts of religious practice within many religious and spiritual traditions. Ascetic lifestyle is associated with monks, fakirs in Abrahamic religions, bhikkhus, sannyasis, yogis in Indian religions. Christian authors of late antiquity such as Origen, St. Jerome, St. Ignatius, John Chrysostom, Augustine interpreted meanings of Biblical texts within a asceticized religious environment. Scriptural examples of asceticism could be found in the lives of John the Baptist, the twelve apostles and the Apostle Paul; the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed ascetic practices of the ancient Jewish sect of Essenes who took vows of abstinence to prepare for a holy war.
An emphasis on an ascetic religious life was evident in both early Christian practices. Other Christian practitioners of asceticism include individuals such as Simeon Stylites, Saint David of Wales and Francis of Assisi. According to Richard Finn, much of early Christian asceticism has been traced to Judaism, but not to traditions within Greek asceticism; some of the ascetic thoughts in Christianity Finn states, have roots in Greek moral thought. Virtuous living is not possible when an individual is craving bodily pleasures with desire and passion. Morality is not seen in the ancient theology as a balancing act between right and wrong, but a form of spiritual transformation, where the simple is sufficient, the bliss is within, the frugal is plenty; the deserts of the Middle East were at one time inhabited by thousands of Christian hermits including St. Anthony the Great, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Simeon Stylites. In 963 CE, an association of monasteries called Lavra was formed on Mount Athos, in Eastern Orthodox tradition.
This became the most important center of orthodox Christian ascetic groups in the centuries that followed. In the modern era, Mount Athos and Meteora have remained a significant center. Sexual abstinence such as those of the Encratites sect of Christians was only one aspect of ascetic renunciation, both natural and unnatural asceticism have been part of Christian asceticism; the natural ascetic practices have included simple living, begging and ethical practices such as humility, compassion and prayer. Evidence of extreme unnatural asceticism in Christianity appear in 2nd-century texts and thereafter, in both the Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Western sister tradition, such as the practice of chaining the body to rocks, eating only grass, praying seated on a pillar in the elements for decades such as by the monk Simeon Stylites, solitary confinement inside a cell, abandoning personal hygiene and adopting lifestyle of a beast, self-inflicted pain and voluntary suffering; such ascetic practices were linked to the Christian concepts of redemption.
Evagrius Ponticus called Evagrius the Solitary was a educated monastic teacher who produced a large theological body of work ascetic, including the Gnostikos known as The Gnostic: To t