Renunciation (sannyās) is potentially the most radical form of unencumbering. Practiced throughout India, renunciation is typically seen as a formal rite of severing the renouncer's ties with family, community, and worldly concerns in order to pursue spiritual goals. Although it is not an expected life stage among Bauls, renunciation is sometimes used as a strategy by Bauls for gaining a more respectable status and the concurrent entitlement to alms. This chapter argues that for women negotiating their place and status in society, renunciation becomes a means of evading normative roles and expectations. These women renounce above all society's claim on them, creatively interpreting their lives and their options and often also gaining increased mobility.
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