Article Title Here

  1. Home
  2. Articles
Ayusman Chakraborty

Awkward one-armed babas: ?rdhvab?hu Hindu Ascetics in Western Imagination

Awkward one-armed babas: ?rdhvab?hu Hindu Ascetics in Western Imagination 

This article examines representations of Hindu ?rdhvab?hu ascetics in Western writings, through close readings of fiction and non-fictional writings from the pre-colonial period to the present times. These ?rdhvab?hu ascetics keep one or both of their arms held perpetually aloft as part of their austerity. They thereby maim themselves in the process. Most Western writers not only mock this ascetic practice but also represent it as something evil. Yet Western imagination manifests a strange preoccupation with it, since Western writers return to this topic again and again. If this type of Hindu austerity is indeed irrational and iniquitous, why do Western writers frequently return to this topic? Why were ?rdhvab?hu ascetics stereotyped as evil in pre-colonial and colonial texts? Why is it chosen over other types of equally severe Hindu austerities to represent the Indians’ need for Western enlightenment? This article tries to suggest answers to these questions 

Key Words: Hindu, sadhus, tapasya, ?rdhvab?hu, spike-lying, negative stereotyping, Western representation.


  • Bingol Universitesi, Fen Edebiyat Fakultesi, 12200 Bingol Turkey

GriSoft © 2021 Essence & Critique Journal . All Rights Reserved