Early Asceticism in India

Posted: 12.03.2016

Ajivikism and Jainism

Ajivikism was once ranked one of the most important religions in India between the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE, after Buddhism, ‘Brahmanism’ and before Jainism, but is now a forgotten Indian religion. However, Jainism has remained an integral part of the religious landscape of South Asia, despite the common beginnings shared with Ajivikism.

By rediscovering, reconstructing, and examining the Ajivikism doctrine, its art, origins and development, this book provides new insight into Ajivikism, and discusses how this information enables us to better understand its impact on Jainism and its role in the development of Indian religion and philosophy. This book explains how, why and when Jainism developed its strikingly unique logic and epistemology and what historical and doctrinal factors prompted the ideas which later led to the formulation of the doctrine of multiplexity of reality (anekanta-vada). It also provides answers to difficult passages of Buddhist Samañña-phala-sutta that baffled both Buddhist commentators and modern researchers.

Offering clearer perspectives on the origins of Jainism the book will be an invaluable contribution to Jaina Studies, Asian Religion and Religious History.


1. Introduction 2. The Encounter 3. Gooeala as a ‘Jaina’ Teacher 4. Souls and Colours 5. Divination and Foretelling the Future 6. Common Set of Early Scriptures 7. Common Cosmology 8. Gooeala’s First Teaching and Vardhamana’s First Ascetic Experiences 9. The Finalities, Death and Sallekhana 10. Drinkables, Undrinkables and the Waters of the Samanna-phala-sutta 11. Ajivikas, Pottery and Pots 12. Determinism, Ajivikas and Jainism 13. Early Anekanta-vada and the Three Figures 14. Ajivikas, Trairaoeikas, Jainas 15. The beginnings of the Sapta-bhaogi 16. Early Epistemological Devices and the Beginnings of Jaina Logic 17. The Anekanta-vada and the Ajivikas 18. Traces of the Anekanta in Pali Buddhist Literature? 19. A Religious Centre and the Art of the Ajivikas 20. Three traditions: Paroeva, Gooeala, Mahavira.


Early Asceticism in India


Piotr Balcerowicz








43 b/w illustrations

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