The second volume of Collected Essays brings together papers on Indian ascetical institutions and ideologies published by Olivelle over a span of about thirty years. Asceticism represents a major strand in the religious and cultural history of India, providing some of the most creative elements within Indian religions and philosophies. Most of the major religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism, and religious philosophies both within these new religions and in the Brahmanical tradition were created by world renouncing ascetics. Yet, ascetical institutions and ideologies developed in a creative tension with other religious institutions that stressed the centrality of family, procreation, and society. It is this tension that has articulated many of the central features of Indian religion and culture. The papers collected in this volume seek to locate Indian ascetical traditions within their historical, political, and ideological contexts. Many of the papers included here represent some of Olivelle's earliest work. It is quite natural that as one matures as a scholar one's approaches and theoretical models change. It would have been impractical and unwise to rewrite all these earlier papers. Even though some of these papers are now dated, bringing them together in a single volume, it is hoped, will prove to be helpful to scholars and students.
Patrick Olivelle is the Chair, Department of Asian Studies, at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions. Among his recent publications are The Samnyasa Upanisads (Oxford, 1992), The Asrama System (Oxford, 1993), Rules and Regulations of Brahmanical Asceticism (State University of New York Press, 1994), The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation (Oxford 1998), Dharmasütras: Annotated Text and Translation (Motilal Banarsidass, 2000), Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra (Oxford, 2005), and Dharmasütra Parallels (Motilal Banarsidass, 2005). His translations of Upanisads, Pancatantra, Dharmasütras, and The Law Code of Manu were published in Oxford World's Classics in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004.