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  • ‘Wander Alone Like the Rhinoceros!’: The Solitary, Itinerant Renouncer in Ancient Indian Gāthā-Poetry

    Kristoffer af Edholm

    Chapter from the book: Larsson S. & af Edholm K. 2021. Songs on the Road: Wandering Religious Poets in India, Tibet, and Japan.

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    The ancient Indian gāthā – a proverbial, succinct type of single-stanza poetry, often collected in thematic sets – became a favoured form of expression among groups of ascetics from the middle to the end of the 1st millennium BCE. This poetry – contrasting with the magico-ritual chant or mantra of the priest and the artistic poem of the aesthete – functions as (self-)instruction for the ascetic/renouncer. Examples include gāthās that exhort him to be as untiring as the Sun in its daily course, or to “wander alone like the rhinoceros!” This chapter delineates the figure of the solitary, wandering renouncer in a selection of Brahmanic, Jaina, and Buddhist ascetic gāthā-verses from that period. Particular attention is given to the use of solar and heroic imagery for describing the ideal renouncer, and how this relates to the real-life conditions of wandering renouncers.

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    How to cite this chapter
    af Edholm, K. 2021. ‘Wander Alone Like the Rhinoceros!’: The Solitary, Itinerant Renouncer in Ancient Indian Gāthā-Poetry. In: Larsson S. & af Edholm K (eds.), Songs on the Road. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bbi.c
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    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on June 22, 2021

    DOI
    https://doi.org/10.16993/bbi.c


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