Practice of the denial of physical or psychological desires in order to attain a spiritual ideal or goal. Most religions have some features of asceticism. The desire for ritual purity in order to come in contact with the divine, the need for atonement, and the wish to earn merit or gain access to supernatural powers all are reasons for ascetic practice. Christian hermits and monks, wandering Hindu ascetics, and Buddhist monks all reject worldly goods and practice various forms of self-denial, including celibacy, abstinence, and fasting. Members of the Digambara sect of Jainism practice an extreme form of asceticism that includes the rejection of wearing clothes. Though monasticism is rejected in the Qur'an, ascetic movements such as zuhd have arisen in Islam. Zoroastrianism forbids fasting and mortification.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on asceticism, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up asceticism? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More