Indian religions, sometimes termed as Dharmic faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions are all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, are not confined to the Indian subcontinent. Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings; the Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE, had an early urbanized culture which predates the Vedic religion. The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians, which were collected and redacted into the Vedas; the period of the composition and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from 1750–500 BCE. The philosophical portions of the Vedas were summarized in Upanishads, which are referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda".
The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of the eleven principal Upanishads were composed in all likelihood before 6th century BCE, contain the earliest mentions of Yoga and Moksha. The Reform or Shramanic Period between 800–200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic Hinduism and Puranic Hinduism"; the Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic tradition defied many of the Vedic and Upanishadic concepts of soul and the ultimate reality. In 6th century BCE, the Shramnic movement matured into Jainism and Buddhism and was responsible for the schism of Indian religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda and nastika. However, both branches shared the related concepts of saṃsāra and moksha; the Puranic Period and Early Medieval period gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism bhakti and Shaivism, Vaishnavism and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta. The early Islamic period gave rise to new movements.
Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India. The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region. With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement. James Mill, in his The History of British India, distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu and British civilisations; this periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical and modern periods", although this periodization has received criticism. Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which showed a strong continuity; the division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never conquered.
According to Thapar, a periodisation could be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not related to a change of ruling powers. Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows: Indian pre-history including Indus Valley Civilisation. Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings such as at Bhimbetka, depicting dances and rituals. Neolithic agriculturalists inhabiting the Indus River Valley buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife and belief in magic. Other South Asian Stone Age sites, such as the Bhimbetka rock shelters in central Madhya Pradesh and the Kupgal petroglyphs of eastern Karnataka, contain rock art portraying religious rites and evidence of possible ritualised music; the religion and belief system of the Indus valley people have received considerable attention from the view of identifying precursors to deities and religious practices of Indian religions that developed in the area.
However, due to the sparsity of evidence, open to varying interpretations, the fact that the Indus script remains undeciphered, the conclusions are speculative and based on a retrospective view from a much Hindu perspective. An early and influential work in the area that set the trend for Hindu interpretations of archaeological evidence from the Harrapan sites was that of John Marshall, who in 1931 identified the following as prominent features of the Indus religion: a Great Male God and a Mother Goddess.
The Jātaka tales are a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of Gautama Buddha in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates. Jātaka tales include an extensive cast of characters who interact and get into various kinds of trouble - whereupon the Buddha character intervenes to resolve all the problems and bring about a happy ending. In Theravada Buddhism, the Jātakas are a textual division of the Pāli Canon, included in the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka; the term Jātaka may refer to a traditional commentary on this book. The Jātakas are amongst the earliest Buddhist literature, with metrical analysis methods dating their average contents to around the 4th century BCE; the Mahāsāṃghika Caitika sects from the Āndhra region took the Jātakas as canonical literature and are known to have rejected some of the Theravāda Jātakas which dated past the time of King Ashoka.
The Caitikas claimed that their own Jātakas represented the original collection before the Buddhist tradition split into various lineages. According to A. K. Warder, the Jātakas are the precursors to the various legendary biographies of the Buddha, which were composed at dates. Although many Jātakas were written from an early period, which describe previous lives of the Buddha little biographical material about Gautama's own life has been recorded; the Jātaka-Mālā of Arya Śura in Sanskrit gives 34 Jātaka stories. At the Ajanta Caves, Jātaka scenes are inscribed with quotes from Arya Shura, with script datable to the sixth century, it had been translated into Chinese in 434 CE. Borobudur contains depictions of all 34 Jatakas from Jataka Mala; the Theravāda Jātakas comprise 547 poems, arranged by an increasing number of verses. According to Professor von Hinüber, only the last 50 were intended to be intelligible by themselves, without commentary; the commentary gives stories in prose that it claims provide the context for the verses, it is these stories that are of interest to folklorists.
Alternative versions of some of the stories can be found in another book of the Pali Canon, the Cariyapitaka, a number of individual stories can be found scattered around other books of the Canon. Many of the stories and motifs found in the Jātaka such as the Rabbit in the Moon of the Śaśajātaka, are found in numerous other languages and media. For example, The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking and The Crab and the Crane that are listed below famously featured in the Hindu Panchatantra, the Sanskrit niti-shastra that ubiquitously influenced world literature. Many of the stories and motifs are translations from the Pali but others are instead derived from vernacular oral traditions prior to the Pali compositions. Sanskrit and Tibetan Jātaka stories tend to maintain the Buddhist morality of their Pali equivalents, but re-tellings of the stories in Persian and other languages sometimes contain significant amendments to suit their respective cultures. At the Mahathupa in Sri Lanka all 550 Jataka tales were represented inside of the reliquary chamber.
Reliquaries depict the Jataka tales. Many stupas in northern India are said to mark locations from the Jātaka tales. A stupa in Pushkalavati, in northwestern Pakistan, marks where Syama fulfilled his filial duty to his blind parents; the Mankiala stupa near Gujar Khan commemorates the spot where Prince Sattva sacrificed himself to feed baby tigers. Nearby the ascetic Ekasrnga was seduced by a beautiful woman. In Mangalura, Ksantivadin submitted to mutilation by a king. At Hadda Mountain a young Brahmin sacrificed himself to learn a half verse of the dharma. At Sarvadattaan an incarnation sold himself for ransom to make offerings to a Brahmin. Faxian describes the four great stupas as being adorned with precious substances. At one site king Sibi sacrifices his flesh to ransom a dove from a hawk. Another incarnation gave up his eyes; as King Candraprabha he cut off his head as a gift to a Brahmin. Some would sever their body parts in front of stupas. Within the Pali tradition, there are many apocryphal Jātakas of composition but these are treated as a separate category of literature from the "Official" Jātaka stories that have been more or less formally canonized from at least the 5th century — as attested to in ample epigraphic and archaeological evidence, such as extant illustrations in bas relief from ancient temple walls.
Apocryphal Jātakas of the Pali Buddhist canon, such as those belonging to the Paññāsa Jātaka collection, have been adapted to fit local culture in certain South East Asian countries and have been retold with amendments to the plots to better reflect Buddhist morals. In Theravada countries several of the longer tales such as "The Twelve Sisters" and the Vessantara Jataka are still performed in dance and formal recitation; such celebrations are associated with particular holidays on the lunar calendar used by Thailand, Sri Lanka and Laos. The standard Pali collection of jātakas, with canonical text embedded, has been translated by E. B. Cowell and others published in six volumes by Cambridge University Press, 1895-1907. There are numerous translations of selections and individual stories from various languages; the Jātaka-Mālā of Arya Śura was critically edited in the original Sanskrit by Hendrik Kern of the University
Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources. Philology is more defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist. In older usage British, philology is more general, covering comparative and historical linguistics. Classical philology studies classical languages. Classical philology principally originated from the Library of Pergamum and the Library of Alexandria around the fourth century BCE, continued by Greeks and Romans throughout the Roman/Byzantine Empire, it was preserved and promoted during the Islamic Golden Age, resumed by European scholars of the Renaissance, where it was soon joined by philologies of other non-Asian and Asian languages. Indo-European studies involves the comparative philology of all Indo-European languages. Philology, with its focus on historical development, is contrasted with linguistics due to Ferdinand de Saussure's insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis.
The contrast continued with the emergence of structuralism and Chomskyan linguistics alongside its emphasis on syntax. The term "philology" is derived from the Greek φιλολογία, from the terms φίλος "love, loved, dear, friend" and λόγος "word, reason", describing a love of learning, of literature, as well as of argument and reasoning, reflecting the range of activities included under the notion of λόγος; the term changed little with the Latin philologia, entered the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French philologie, in the sense of "love of literature". The adjective φιλόλογος meant "fond of discussion or argument, talkative", in Hellenistic Greek implying an excessive preference of argument over the love of true wisdom, φιλόσοφος; as an allegory of literary erudition, philologia appears in fifth-century postclassical literature, an idea revived in Late Medieval literature. The meaning of "love of learning and literature" was narrowed to "the study of the historical development of languages" in 19th-century usage of the term.
Due to the rapid progress made in understanding sound laws and language change, the "golden age of philology" lasted throughout the 19th century, or "from Giacomo Leopardi and Friedrich Schlegel to Nietzsche". In the Anglo-Saxon world, the term philology to describe work on languages and literatures, which had become synonymous with the practices of German scholars, was abandoned as a consequence of anti-German feeling following World War I. Most continental European countries still maintain the term to designate departments, position titles, journals. J. R. R. Tolkien opposed the nationalist reaction against philological practices, claiming that "the philological instinct" was "universal as is the use of language". In British English usage, in British academia, "philology" remains synonymous with "historical linguistics", while in US English, US academia, the wider meaning of "study of a language's grammar and literary tradition" remains more widespread. Based on the harsh critique of Friedrich Nietzsche, US scholars since the 1980s have viewed philology as responsible for a narrowly scientistic study of language and literature.
The comparative linguistics branch of philology studies the relationship between languages. Similarities between Sanskrit and European languages were first noted in the early 16th century and led to speculation of a common ancestor language from which all these descended, it is now named Proto-Indo-European. Philology's interest in ancient languages led to the study of what were, in the 18th century, "exotic" languages, for the light they could cast on problems in understanding and deciphering the origins of older texts. Philology includes the study of texts and their history, it includes elements of textual criticism, trying to reconstruct an author's original text based on variant copies of manuscripts. This branch of research arose among Ancient scholars in the 4th century BC Greek-speaking world, who desired to establish a standard text of popular authors for the purposes of both sound interpretation and secure transmission. Since that time, the original principles of textual criticism have been improved and applied to other distributed texts such as the Bible.
Scholars have tried to reconstruct the original readings of the Bible from the manuscript variants. This method was applied to Classical Studies and to medieval texts as a way to reconstruct the author's original work; the method produced so-called "critical editions", which provided a reconstructed text accompanied by a "critical apparatus", i.e. footnotes that listed the various manuscript variants available, enabling scholars to gain insight into the entire manuscript tradition and argue about the variants. A related study method known as higher criticism studies the authorship and provenance of text to place such text in historical context; as these philological issues are inseparable from issues of interpretation, there is no clear-cut boundary between philology and hermeneutics. When text has a significant political or religious influence, scholars have difficulty reaching objective conclusions; some scholars avoid all critical methods of textual philology
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university in Bloomington, Indiana. It is the flagship institution of the Indiana University system and, with over 40,000 students, its largest university. Indiana University is a "Public Ivy" university and ranks in the top 100 national universities in the U. S. and among the top 50 public universities. It is a member of the Association of American Universities and has numerous schools and programs, including the Jacobs School of Music, the School of Informatics and Engineering, the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Optometry, the Maurer School of Law, the School of Education, the Media School, the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; as of Fall 2017, 43,710 students attend Indiana University. While 55.1% of the student body was from Indiana, students from all 50 states, Washington, D. C. Puerto Rico and 165 countries were enrolled.
As of 2018, the average ACT score is a 28 and an SAT score of 1276. The university is home to an extensive student life program, with more than 750 student organizations on campus and with around 17 percent of undergraduates joining the Greek system. Indiana athletic teams are known as the Indiana Hoosiers; the university is a member of the Big Ten Conference. Indiana's faculty and alumni include nine Nobel laureates, 17 Rhodes Scholars, 17 Marshall Scholars, five MacArthur Fellows. In addition and alumni have won six Academy Awards, 49 Grammy Awards, 32 Emmy Awards, 20 Pulitzer Prizes, four Tony Awards, 104 Olympic medals. Notable Indiana alumni include James Watson, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA. Indiana's state government in Corydon established Indiana University on January 20, 1820, as the "State Seminary." Construction began in 1822 at what is now called Seminary Square Park near the intersection of Second Street and College Avenue. The first professor was Baynard Rush Hall, a Presbyterian minister who taught all of the classes in 1825–27.
In the first year, he taught twelve students and was paid $250. Hall was a classicist who focused on Greek and Latin and believed that the study of classical philosophy and languages formed the basis of the best education; the first class graduated in 1830. From 1820 to 1889 a legal-political battle was fought between IU and Vincennes University as to, the legitimate state university. In 1829, Andrew Wylie became the first president, serving until his death in 1851; the school's name was changed to "Indiana College" in 1829, to "Indiana University" in 1839. Wylie and David Maxwell, president of the board of trustees, were devout Presbyterians, they spoke of the nonsectarian status of the school but hired fellow Presbyterians. Presidents and professors were expected to set a moral example for their charges. After six ministers in a row, the first non-clergyman to become president was the young biology professor David Starr Jordan, in 1885. Jordan followed Baptist theologian Lemuel Moss, who resigned after a scandal broke regarding his involvement with a female professor.
Jordan improved the university's finances and public image, doubled its enrollment, instituted an elective system along the lines of his alma mater, Cornell University. Jordan became president of Stanford University in June 1891. Growth of the college was slow. In 1851, IU had seven professors. IU admitted its first woman student, Sarah Parke Morrison, in 1867, making IU the fourth public university to admit women on an equal basis with men. Morrison went on to become the first female professor at IU in 1873. Mathematician Joseph Swain was IU's first Hoosier-born president, 1893 to 1902, he established Kirkwood Hall in 1894. He began construction for Science Hall in 1901. During his presidency, student enrollment increased from 524 to 1,285. In 1883, IU awarded its first Ph. D. and played its first intercollegiate sport, prefiguring the school's future status as a major research institution and a power in collegiate athletics. But another incident that year was of more immediate concern: the original campus in Seminary Square burned to the ground.
The college was rebuilt between 1884 and 1908 at the far eastern edge of Bloomington. One challenge was that Bloomington's limited water supply was inadequate for its population of 12,000 and could not handle university expansion; the University commissioned a study. In 1902, IU enrolled 1203 undergraduates. There were 82 graduate students including ten from out-of-state; the curriculum emphasized the classics, as befitted a gentleman, stood in contrast to the service-oriented curriculum at Purdue, which presented itself as of direct benefit to farmers and businessmen. The first extension office of IU was opened in Indianapolis in 1916. In 1920/1921 the School of Music and the School of Commerce and Finance (what becam
The milkmaid and her pail
The Milkmaid and Her Pail is a folktale of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 1430 about interrupted daydreams of wealth and fame. Ancient tales of this type exist in the East but Western variants are not found before the Middle Ages, it was only in the 18th century that the story about the daydreaming milkmaid began to be attributed to Aesop, although it was included in none of the main collections, it does not appear in the Perry Index. There is a theme common to the many different stories of this type that involves poor persons daydreaming of future wealth arising from a temporary possession; when they get carried away by their fantasy and start acting it out, they break the container on which their dream is founded and find themselves worse off. One of the earliest is included in the Indian Panchatantra as "The brahman who built air-castles". There a man speculates about the wealth that will flow from selling a pot of grain that he has been given, progressing through a series of sales of animals until he has enough to support a wife and family.
The child misbehaves, his wife takes no heed, so he kicks her and in doing so upsets the pot, to make his fortune. Other variants include Bidpai's "The Poorman and the Flask of Oil", "The Barber's Tale of his Fifth Brother" from The 1001 Nights and the Jewish story of "The Dervish and the Honey Jar". From its earliest appearance in the 14th century, the story of the daydreaming milkmaid has been told as a cautionary fable illustrating the lesson that you should'Confine your thoughts to what is real', it appears in Dialogue 100 of the Dialogus creaturarum. It appears under the title "Of what happened to a woman called Truhana" in Don Juan Manuel's Tales of Count Lucanor, one of the earliest works of prose in Castilian Spanish It is different from the Eastern variants in that it is told of a woman on the way to market who starts to speculate on the consequences of investing the sale of her wares in eggs and breeding chickens from them. In this case it is a jar of honey; when the story reappears in a 16th-century French version, the woman has become a milkmaid and engages in detailed financial calculations of her profits.
The story gained lasting popularity. The charm of La Fontaine's poetic form apart, however, it differs little from the version recorded in his source, Bonaventure des Périers' Nouvelles récréations et joyeux devis. There the fable is made an example of the practice of alchemists, who are like'a good woman, carrying a pot of milk to market and reckoning up her account as follows: she would sell it for half a sou and with that would buy a dozen eggs which she would set to hatch and have from them a dozen chicks, it would be nice as it grew up, prancing about and neighing. And so happy was the good woman imagining this that she began to frisk in imitation of her foal, that made the pot fall and all the milk spill, and down tumbled with it her eggs, her chickens, her capons, her mare and foal, the whole lot.' This has led to the proverb "Don't count your chicks. In Britain the earliest appearance of the fable was in Bernard Mandeville's selection of adaptations from La Fontaine, published under the title Aesop dress'd.
The false connection with Aesop was continued by the story's reappearance in Robert Dodsley's Select fables of Esop and other fabulists. Titled there “The country maid and her milk pail”, it is prefaced with the sentiment that'when men suffer their imagination to amuse them with the prospect of distant and uncertain improvements of their condition, they sustain real losses by their inattention to those affairs in which they are concerned'; the story is told and ends with the pail being dislodged when the girl scornfully tosses her head in rejection of all the young men at the dance she was to attend, wearing a new dress to be bought with the proceeds of her commercial activities. A different version was versified by Jefferys Taylor as "The Milkmaid" in his Aesop in Rhyme; as in Bonaventure des Périers' telling, the bulk of the poem is given over to the long reckoning of prices. It ends with the maid toppling her pail by superciliously tossing her head in rejection of her former humble circumstances.
The moral on which Taylor ends his poem is'Reckon not your chickens before they are hatched’, where a collection has'Count not...' The proverb fits the story and its lesson so well that one is tempted to speculate that it developed out of some earlier oral version of the fable. But the earliest recorded instance of it in the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs is in a religious sonnet dating from the 1570s; the idiom used by La Fontaine in the course of his long conclusion is'to build castles in Spain', of which he gives a few examples that make it clear that the meaning he intends is'to dream of the impossible'. Avoiding that may well be what Bonaventure des Périers intended in telling his story too, but in the English versions the moral to be drawn is that to bring a plan to completion more than dreaming is required. A version of the fable was written by the German poet Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim in the 18th century, it differs little from other retellings, apart from its conclusion. The woman confesses what has happened to her husband, who advises her to live in the here and now and be content with what she has rather than ‘building castle
The Ass in the Lion's Skin
The Ass in the Lion's Skin is one of Aesop's Fables, of which there are two distinct versions. There are several Eastern variants, the story's interpretation varies accordingly. Of the two Greek versions of this story, the one catalogued as 188 in the Perry Index concerns an Ass that puts on a lion's skin and amuses himself by terrifying all the foolish animals. At last coming upon a Fox, he tried to frighten him but the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, "I might have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray." The moral of the story is quoted as Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away. It is this version; the second version is listed as 358 in the Perry Index. In this the ass puts on the skin in order to be able to graze undisturbed in the fields but is given away by its ears and is chastised; as well as Greek versions, there is a 5th century Latin version by Avianus, taken up by William Caxton. The moral here cautions against presumption.
Literary allusions were frequent from Classical times and into the Renaissance, when there were references to it in William Shakespeare's King John. La Fontaine's Fable 5.21 follows this version. The moral La Fontaine draws that clothes do not make the man. In India the same situation appears in Buddhist scriptures as the Sihacamma Jataka. Here the ass's master puts the lion's skin over his beast and turns it loose to feed in the grain fields during his travels; the village watchman is too terrified to do anything but one of them raises the villagers. The ass is beaten to death. A neighbouring tale, the Sihakottukha Jataka, plays on the motif of being given away by one's voice. In this a lion has sired a son on a she-jackal that has a jackal's howl, he is therefore advised to stay silent in future. A common European variant on this sentiment appears in the Sephardic proverb in Ladino, Asno callado, por sabio contado, a silent ass is considered wise. Another English equivalent is'A fool is not known until he opens his mouth'.
The story and its variants is alluded to idiomatically in various other languages. In Latin it was Leonis exuviae super asinum. In Mandarin Chinese it is "羊質虎皮", ‘a goat in a tiger’s skin’. In the Chinese story a goat continues to eat grass as usual; when it spies a wolf, instinct takes over and the goat takes to its heels. In American political culture, the ass in the lion's skin was one of several fables by Aesop, put to use by cartoonist Thomas Nast when it was rumoured in 1874 that the Republican President Ulysses S. Grant would attempt to run for an unprecedented third term in two years' time. Around that time, there was a false report that the animals had escaped from Central Park Zoo and were roaming the city. Nast combined the two items in a cartoon for the 7 November Harpers Weekly; the fable was put to literary use in the 20th century by C. S. Lewis. In The Last Battle, the final volume of The Chronicles of Narnia, a donkey named Puzzle is tricked into wearing a lion's skin, manipulated so as to deceive the simple-minded into believing that Aslan the lion has returned to Narnia.
Kathryn Lindskoog identifies the Avianus version as the source of this episode. 15th-20th century illustrations from books on flikr
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