Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Stephen Covell

Second Advisor

Robert Berkhofer


This thesis examines the complex relationship between the physical body and religious self-mortification in Buddhism and Christianity from 1200 CE- 1700CE. This thesis presents a comparative analysis comprised of intention, the body, and effect to analyze the concepts and ideas of individual practitioners of mortification and dominant religious entities. The methodology includes examination of primary and secondary documents, along with historiography on self-mortification, to understand the role of the body through its relationships with other elements. The first section offers a brief overview of concepts regarding the body, the second presents six categories divided based on intention and effect. The concluding section draws together the concepts and understandings of the body expanded upon in the first two sections, before asserting that the conceptual idea of the physical body, within a broader framework, rather than purely scientific and literal, is pivotal for understanding religious self-mortification.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted