Creator: Jain, Pankaj
Description: This article reviews the renunciation and non-renunciation in Indian films. Renunciation is one of the most widely studied subjects among Indic traditions. The image of a half-naked ascetic with a stick in one hand and a begging bowl in other has captured the attention of scholars more often than the mundane householder. Whereas the ascetic captured the imagination with his (and sometimes her) individualistic spirit rebelling against the maligned caste hierarchy, the householder has been seen as a poor creature living a routine life according to the rules dictated by the caste (varna) and the stage in life (ashrama). The author reviews several films to analyze the portrayal of ascetics and householders, but cannot claim that the review is encyclopedic because there are so many films with variations on this theme. All of the films introduced here were made by Indian filmmakers except for two Hollywood films, the Householder (1963) and Siddhartha (1972), that were filmed in India with an Indian cast and story.
Contributing Partner: UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service