ASAVARI See ASA ASCETICISM, derived from the Greek word askesis, connotes the `training` or `exercise` of the body and the mind. Asceticism or ascetic practices belong to the domain of religious culture, and fasts, pilgrimages, ablutions, purificatory rituals, vigils, abstinence from certain foods and drinks, primitive and strange dress, nudity, uncut hair, tonsure. shaving the head, circumcision, cavedwelling, silence, meditation, vegetarianism, celibacy, virginity, inflicting pain upon oneself by whips and chains, mutilation, begging alms, owning no wealth or possessions, forbearance and patience, equanimity or impartiality towards friends and foes, eradication of desires and passions, treating the body as something evil or treating human life as a means of achieving ultimate release or union with God all these are subsumed under ascetic practices. The history of Indian religiousness presents the ultimate in the development of the theory and practice of asceticism.
AMRIT, derived from Sanskrit amrta, defined variously as not dead, immortal, imperishable; beautiful, beloved; world of immortality, heaven; immortality, eternity; final emancipation; nectar, ambrosia; nectarlike food; antidote against poison; or anything sweet, commonly means a liquid or drink by consuming which one attains everlasting life or immortality. It is in this sense that the word was first used in the Vedic hymns. According to Hindu mythology, amrit was extracted by the gods by churning the ocean with the assistance of the demons and it was by drinking it that the gods became immortal. A similar concept of an immortalizing drink also exists in Greek and Semitic mythologies wherein it is variously called ambrosia, nectar or abihayat.