William Pinch's ambitious book traces ascetic warriors-companies (akharas) of men and their retinues who variously called themselves sanyasis, gosains, bairagis, fakirs and (especially) nagas - from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the Nehru era. He suggests first, a process of expansion and institutionalization during the seventeenth century under Mughal rule; second, a peak of influence in the eighteenth century when armed ascetics were employed as inexpensive and well-armed infantry and cavalry soldiers; and third, an incomplete domestication of militant ascetics under the suspicious vigilance of British rule and with redefinitions of "proper" Hindu asceticism in modem devotional Hinduism and Hindu nationalism.
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Curley, David, "Review of: Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires by William R. Pinch" (2008). Liberal Studies. 5.