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Āśrama and Saṃnyāsa
(3,424 words)

The term āśrama has two related meanings. The first is that of a residence, often located in forests, where holy people live and perform religious austerities (tapas). This is by far its most common meaning; it is so used in Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Jain literary sources, as well as in nonreligious texts such as drama, poetry, and fables. The second meaning of the term is that of a religious or holy way of life. The latter is, in all likelihood, a technical usage, as it occurs exclusively in Brahmanical literature and mainly within the context of the āś…

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Olivelle, Patrick, “Āśrama and Saṃnyāsa”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 25 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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