4 2 2016

The political as a practice: the sadhus' art of self-fashioning

Yubraj Aryal


This paper examines the sadhus’ ways of fashioning the ‘self’ and body, creating ‘a style of existence’ by one’s relation to oneself as a model of life-style politics. The sadhu as non-sovereign subject, constitutes a new power relation in relation to himself, which Foucault calls ‘self-fashioning’ one’s own existence, marking the radical impossibility of domination and control by the coercive institutions of society and state. This paper focuses mainly on questions of life-style politics as concomitant forms of politics, rendering dominant power relations ineffective in ruling over life, as well as how the sadhus’ non-sovereign mode of life ‘becomes resistance to power when power takes life as its object’ (Deleuze 1988).

Full Text:

PDF (873KB)


Alter, Joseph S, “The Body of One Color: Indian Wrestling, the Indian State, and Utopian Somatics,” Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Feb., 1993pp. 49-72.

Balakrishna, Gopal, The Enemy: Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt (New York: Verso, 2000).

Bloch, Maurice and Parry, Jonathan (eds.), Death and the Regeneration of Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

Burgess, Vincent E., 2007, ‘Indian Influences on Rastafarianism’, unpublished Senior Honors Thesis, Ohio State University. Accessed 13 October 2016. Online at: https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/28443/vincent_bur?sequence=1

Chua, Liana, Cook, Joanna, and Long, Nicholas, "Introduction: Power and Orientation in Southeast Asia" in Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power, ed. Liana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long (New York: Routledge, 2012).

Deleuze, Gilles, Foucault, trans & ed Sean Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).

_____, Logic of Sense, ed. Constantin V. Bounds, trans. Mark Lester (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

Flood, Gavin, The Ascetic Self: Subjectivity, Memory and Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Foucault, Michael, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Westminster: Vintage, 1995).

_____,Essential works of Michel Foucault, Vol. 1: Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. P. Rabinow, (London: Allen Lane 2000), p. 200.

_____,Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Random House, 1965).

_____,Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. C. Gordon, trans. C. Gordon L. Marshal J. Mepham and K. Sober (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980).

_____,The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981-1982, ed. Fredric Gros, trans Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

_____,The History of Sexuality: The Care of the Self Vol. III (New York: Vintage Books, 1988).

_____,The History of Sexuality Volume II: The Use of Pleasure (New York: Random House Inc. 1990).

_____,The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Routledge, 1994).

Gros, Fréderic, “Le souci de soi chez Michel Foucault,” a review of The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1981-1982,” Philosophy & Social Criticism, Vol. 31, No 5-6, September, 2005.

Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio, Declaration (Perseus Books Group: Kindle Edition, 2012).

Hartsuiker, Dolf, Sadhus: Holy Men of India (Vermont; Inner Traditions, 1993).

Hausner, Sondra L. Wandering with Sadhus: Ascetics of the Hindu Himalayas (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).

Lacan, Jacques, “The Function of the Written,” On Feminine Sexuality. The Limits of Love and Knowledge, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book XX, 1972-1973 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998).

Mehta, Gita, A River Sutra (London: Minerv, 1993).

Milner, Marion, The Suppressed Madness of Sane Men: Forty-four Years of Exploring Psychoanalysis (New York: Rutledge, 2002).

Svobodap, Robert E., Aghora: At the Hand of God (Albuquerque, New Mexico: Brotherhood of Life, Inc., 1999).

Tigunait, Pandit Rajmani, Tantra Unveiled (Honesdale, PA: Himalayan Institute, 2007).

Valantasis, Richard, “Constructions of Power in Asceticism” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.63, No.4, 1995.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Comments on this article

View all comments

ISSN 2050-487X
Privacy and cookies Take Down Policy