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The Sanskrit word tapas is frequently translated as “austerity” or more broadly as “asceticism.” The word itself derives from the Sanskrit verb tap-, “to heat,” “to be hot.” Accordingly tapas can refer to a variety of practices aimed at the generation of a kind of “heat” as well as to the heat so generated. Though the term eventually comes to mean a specifically “ascetic,” often painful heat produced by the practice of austerities such as fasting, and with asceticism more generally, its core meaning of the production of hea…

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Carpenter, David, “Tapas”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 29 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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