This article addresses institutional innovations in the Jain Śvetāmbara Terāpanth as it has adapted to a new socio-historical and cultural context. It investigates the intersections between the Terāpanth and the context of late-capitalism, particularly in India, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and discusses shifts in orientations toward the body as acts of adaptation to late capitalism. Historically, the Terāpanth held an ascetic ideal that required social withdrawal and bodily purification for the sake of spiritual release from the world. Beginning in the late twentieth century, however, the Terāpanth prescribed a form of modern yoga for enhancing the body and life in the world. I argue that this shift signifies a practical change in the everyday body maintenance regime of the practitioner. It does not, however, signify a soteriological shift for the advanced spiritual adept. Rather, a body-negating asceticism maintains its central role in the construction of the soteriological path.
- © 2012 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, at http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp.