Ajivika (IAST: Ājīvika) is one of the nāstika or "heterodox" schools of Indian philosophy.[2][3] Purportedly founded in the 5th century BCE by Makkhali Gosala, it was a śramaṇa movement and a major rival of vedic religion, early Buddhism and Jainism.[4] Ājīvikas were organised renunciates who formed discrete communities.[5]

Original scriptures of the Ājīvika school of philosophy may once have existed, but these are currently unavailable and probably lost. Their theories are extracted from mentions of Ajivikas in the secondary sources of ancient Indian literature.[6] Scholars question whether Ājīvika philosophy has been fairly and completely summarized in these secondary sources, as they were written by groups (such as the Buddhists and Jains) competing with and adversarial to the philosophy and religious practices of the Ajivikas.[7] It is therefore likely that much of the information available about the Ājīvikas is inaccurate to some degree, and characterisations of them should be regarded carefully and critically.

The Ājīvika school is known for its Niyati ("Fate") doctrine of absolute determinism,[3] the premise that there is no free will, that everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is entirely preordained and a function of cosmic principles.[3][6] Ājīvikas considered the karma doctrine as a fallacy.[8] Ajivika metaphysics included a theory of atoms which was later adapted in Vaisheshika school, where everything was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces.[9] Ājīvikas were considered as atheists.[10] They believed that in every living being is an ātman – a central premise of Hinduism and Jainism.[11][12][13]

Founded in what is now the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Ājīvika philosophy reached the height of its popularity during the rule of the Mauryan emperor Bindusara, around the 4th century BCE. This school of thought thereafter declined, but survived for nearly 2,000 years through the 14th century CE in the southern Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.[2][8][14] The Ājīvika philosophy, along with the Cārvāka philosophy, appealed most to the warrior, industrial and mercantile classes of ancient Indian society.[15]

Four Scenes from the Life of the Buddha - Parinirvana - Kushan dynasty, late 2nd to early 3rd century AD, Gandhara, schist - Freer Gallery of Art - DSC05119
On the left: Mahākāśyapa meets an Ājīvika and learns of the parinirvana[1]

Etymology and meaning

Ajivika (Ājīvika, Sanskrit: आजीविक) is derived from Ajiva (Ājīva, आजीव) which literally means "livelihood, lifelong, mode of life".[16][17] The term Ajivika means "those following special rules with regard to Iivelihood", sometimes connoting "religious mendicants" in ancient Sanskrit and Pali texts.[2][6]

The name Ajivika for an entire philosophy resonates with its core belief in "no free will" and complete niyati, literally "inner order of things, self-command, predeterminism", leading to the premise that good simple living is not a means to salvation or moksha, just a means to true livelihood, predetermined profession and way of life.[17][18] The name came to imply that school of Indian philosophy which lived a good simple mendicant-like livelihood for its own sake and as part of its predeterministic beliefs, rather than for the sake of after-life or motivated by any soteriological reasons.[6][17]

Some scholars spell Ajivika as Ajivaka.[19]



The views of six śramaṇa in the Pāli Canon
(based on the Buddhist text Sāmaññaphala Sutta1)
Śramaṇa view (diṭṭhi)1
Amoralism: denies any reward or
punishment for either good or bad deeds.

Niyativāda (Fatalism): we are powerless;
suffering is pre-destined.

Materialism: live happily;
with death, all is annihilated.
Sassatavada (Eternalism):
Matter, pleasure, pain and the soul are eternal and
do not interact.

Restraint: be endowed with, cleansed by
and suffused with the avoidance of all evil.2

Agnosticism: "I don't think so. I don't think in that
way or otherwise. I don't think not or not not."
Suspension of judgement.
Notes: 1. DN 2 (Thanissaro, 1997; Walshe, 1995, pp. 91-109).
2. DN-a (Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi, 1995, pp. 1258-59, n. 585).

Ājīvika philosophy is cited in ancient texts of Buddhism and Jainism to Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of the Buddha and Mahavira.[17] In Sandaka Sutta the Ājīvikas are said to recognize three emancipators: Nanda Vaccha, Kisa Saṅkicca, and Makkhali Gosāla. Exact origins of Ājīvika is unknown, but generally accepted to be the 5th century BCE.[2]

Primary sources and literature of the Ājīvikas is lost, or yet to be found. Everything that is known about Ājīvika history and its philosophy is from secondary sources, such as the ancient and medieval texts of India.[6] Inconsistent fragments of Ājīvika history is found mostly in Jain texts such as the Bhagvati Sutra and Buddhist texts such as the Samaññaphala Sutta and Sandaka Sutta, and Buddhaghosa's commentary on Sammannaphala Sutta,[17][6] with a few mentions in Hindu texts such as Vayu Purana.[20][21]

The Ājīvikas reached the height of their prominence in the late 1st millennium BCE, then declined, yet continued to exist in south India until the 14th Century CE, as evidenced by inscriptions found in southern India.[3][8] Ancient texts of Buddhism and Jainism mention a city in the 1st millennium BCE named Savatthi (Sanskrit Śravasti) as the hub of the Ājīvikas; it was located near Ayodhya in what is now the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In later part of the common era, inscriptions suggests that the Ājīvikas had a significant presence in the South Indian state of Karnataka, prominently in Kolar district and some places of Tamil Nadu.[8]

The Ājīvika philosophy spread rapidly in ancient South Asia, with a Sangha Geham (community center) for Ājīvikas on the island now known as Sri Lanka and also extending into the western state of Gujarat by the 4th century BCE, the era of the Maurya Empire.[5]

Classification in Hindu philosophy

Riepe refers to Ājīvikas as a distinct heterodox school of Indian tradition.[22] Raju states that "Ājīvikas and Cārvākas can be called Hindus", and adds that "the word Hinduism has no definite meaning".[23] Epigraphical evidence suggests that emperor Ashoka, in the 3rd century BCE, considered Ājīvikas to be more closely related to the schools of Hinduism than to Buddhists, Jainas or other Indian schools of thought.[24]

Biography of Makkhali Gosala

Makkhali Gosala (Pali; Sanskrit Gośala Maskariputra, c. 484 BCE) is generally considered as the founder of the Ājīvika movement.[3][6] Some sources state that Gosala was only a leader of a large Ājīvika congregation of ascetics, but not the founder of the movement himself. The Swiss Indologist Jarl Charpentier and others suggest the Ājīvika tradition existed in India well before the birth of Makkhali Gosala, citing a variety of ancient Indian texts.[18]

Gosala was believed to be born in Tiruppatur of Tiruchirappalli district in Tamil Nadu[25] and was the son of Mankha, a professional mendicant. His mother was Bhaddā.[26] His name Gosala "cowshed" refers to his humble birthplace.

While Bhaddā was pregnant, she and her husband Mankhali, the mankha, came to the village ... of Saravaṇa, where dwelt a wealthy householder Gobahula. Mankhali left his wife and his luggage ... in Gobahula’s cowshed (gosālā) ... Since he could find no shelter elsewhere the couple continued to live in a corner of the cowshed, and it was there that Bhaddā gave birth to her child."[27]

Ashoka pillar delhi2
Ashoka's Seventh Pillar Edict mentions Ajivikas.[8][28] Above in the second column is the seventh edict in the Brahmi script (3rd century BCE).
Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves at Barabar, Bihar, 1870
The 3rd century BCE mendicant caves of the Ājīvikas (Barabar, near Gaya, Bihar).[29]

Gosala is described in ancient texts as a contemporary of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, and of Gautama Buddha. The Jain Bhagavati Sutra refers to him as Gosala Mankhaliputta ("son of Mankhali"). The text depicts Gosala as having been a disciple of Mahavira's for a period of six years, after which the two had a falling out and parted ways.[17] According to the Bhagvati Sutra, Makkhali Gosala met with Mahāvīra again later in life, but Gosala asserted to Mahavira that he was not the same person. Makkhali Gosala referred to the example of a sesame plant which “had been pulled up, and had temporarily died, but it had been replanted and thus reanimated, becoming once more living, while the seven pods had developed”.[30] Gosāla declared that the original Gosāla who was Mahavira's companion once was dead, and that the soul now inhabiting the apparent Gosāla in front of him was a reanimated, completely different Gosala.[17][31] This argument was declared a form of sophistry by Mahavira, and this led to a significant break in the relations between the two.

Inscriptions and caves

Several rock-cut caves belonging to Ājīvikas are dated to the times of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (r. 273 BC to 232 BC). These are the oldest surviving cave temples of ancient India, and are called the Barabar Caves in Jehanabad district of Bihar.[32] The Barabar caves were carved out of granite, has a highly polished internal cave surfaces, and each consists of two chambers, the first is a large rectangular hall, the second is a small, circular, domed chamber. These were probably used for meditation.[32]

Reliability of sources

Ājīvikas competed with and debated the scholars of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. The Ājīvika movement is primarily from historical references left behind in Jain and Buddhist sources, that may therefore be hostile to it.[8] It is unknown to what degree the available non-Ājīvika sources reflect the actual beliefs and practices of the Ājīvikas. Most of what is known about them was recorded in the literature of rival groups, modern scholars question the reliability of the secondary sources, and whether intentional distortions for dehumanization and criticism was introduced into the records.[21][7]

More recent work by scholars suggests that the Ājīvika were perhaps misrepresented by Jain and Buddhist sources.

[Johannes Bronkhorst's] claim is that, whereas the Jains teach that one can both stop the influx of new karma and rid oneself of old karma through ascetic practice, Gosāla taught that one could only stop the influx of new karma. [...] Ascetic practice can be effective in preventing further karmic influx, which helps to explain the otherwise inexplicable fact that the Ājīvikas did practice asceticism. [...] [T]he popularity of the Ājīvika doctrine in ancient times, such that it could rival that of both Jainism and Buddhism, also make sense if this doctrine was really not so radically different from these traditions as its presentation in Jain and Buddhist sources suggests.[33]

Paul Dundas states that the Jain and Buddhist texts cannot be considered reliable source of Ājīvika history and philosophy, because "it seems doubtful whether a doctrine [of Ajivikas] which genuinely advocated the lack of efficacy of individual effort could have formed the basis of a renunciatory path to spiritual liberation", and that "the suspicion must be that the Jains and Buddhists deliberately distorted Ajivika doctrine for their own polemical purposes".[7] In contrast, other scholars[17] suggest that at least the common elements found about Ājīvikas in Jain and Buddhist literature may be considered, because Jainism and Buddhism were two different, competing and conflicting philosophies in ancient India.


Tile with Ajivaka (?) Ascetics LACMA M.82.152
Tile possibly representing Ajivika ascetics.

Absolute determinism and no free will

The problems of time and change was one of the main interests of the Ajivikas. Their views on this subject may have been influenced by Vedic sources, such as the hymn to Kala (Time) in Atharvaveda.[34] Both Jaina and Buddhist texts state that Ājīvikas believed in absolute determinism, absence of free will, and called this niyati.[3][6] Everything in human life and universe, according to Ajivikas, was pre-determined, operating out of cosmic principles, and true choice did not exist.[6][35] The Buddhist and Jaina sources describe them as strict fatalists, who did not believe in karma.[3][8] The Ajivikas philosophy held that all things are preordained, and therefore religious or ethical practice has no effect on one’s future, and people do things because cosmic principles make them do so, and all that will happen or will exist in future is already predetermined to be that way. No human effort could change this niyati and the karma ethical theory was a fallacy.[8] James Lochtefeld summarizes this aspect of Ajivika belief as, "life and the universe is like a ball of pre-wrapped up string, which unrolls until it was done and then goes no further".[3]

Riepe states that the Ajivikas belief in predeterminism does not mean that they were pessimistic. Rather, just like Calvinists belief in predeterminism in Europe, the Ajivikas were optimists.[36] The Ajivikas simply did not believe in the moral force of action, or in merits or demerits, or in after-life to be affected because of what one does or does not do. Actions had immediate effects in one's current life but without any moral traces, and both the action and the effect was predetermined, according to the Ajivikas.[36]

Makkali Gosala seems to have combined the ideas of older schools of thought into an eclectic doctrine. He appears to have believed in niyati (destiny), svabhava (nature), and sangati (change), and possibly parinama, which may have prompted other philosophical schools to label him variously as ahetuvadin, vainayikavadin, ajnanavadin, and issarakaranavadin.[37] According to him all beings undergo development (parinama). This culminates in the course of time (samsarasuddhi) in final salvation to which all beings are destined under the impact of the factors of niyati (destiny), bhava (nature), and sangati (change).[37] As such destiny does not appear as the only player, but rather chance or indeterminism plays equal part in his doctrine. He thus subscribed to niyativada (fatalism) only in the sense that he thought that some future events like salvation for all were strictly determined.[37]

Ajivikas and theism

Ajivika's was an atheistic philosophy.[38] They did not presume any deity as the creator of the universe, or as prime mover, or that some unseen mystical end was the final resting place of the cosmos.[39]

In later texts, the Tamil Nīlakēci, a story of two divinities, Okkali and Ōkali, relates the Ājīvikas instructed men in the scriptures.[40]

Ajivikas believed that in every being there is a soul (Atman). However, unlike Jains and various orthodox schools of Hinduism that held that soul is formless, Ajivikas asserted that soul has a material form, one that helps meditation.[41] They also believed that the soul passes through many births and ultimately progresses unto its pre-destined nirvana (salvation).[42] Basham states, that some texts suggest evidence of Vaishnavism-type devotional practices among some Ajivikas.[43]


Ajivikas developed a theory of elements and atoms similar to the Vaisheshika school of Hinduism. Everything was composed of minuscule atoms, according to Ajivikas, and qualities of things are derived from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces.[9]

The description of Ajivikas atomism is inconsistent between those described in Buddhist and Hindu texts. According to three Tamil texts,[36] the Ajivikas held there exists seven kayas (Sanskrit: काय, assemblage, collection, elemental categories): pruthvi-kaya (earth), apo-kaya (water), tejo-kaya (fire), vayo-kaya (air), sukha (joy), dukkha (sorrow) and jiva (life).[9] The first four relate to matter, the last three non-matter. These elements are akata (that which is neither created nor destroyed), vanjha (barren, that which never multiplies or reproduces) and have an existence independent of the other.[9] The elements, asserts Ajivika theory in the Tamil text Manimekalai, are made of paramanu (atoms), where atoms were defined as that which cannot be further subdivided, that which cannot penetrate another atom, that which is neither created nor destroyed, that which retains its identity by never growing nor expanding nor splitting nor changing, yet that which moves, assembles and combines to form the perceived.[9][36]

The Tamil text of Ajivikas asserts that this "coming together of atoms can take diversity of forms, such as the dense form of a diamond, or a loose form of a hollow bamboo". Everything one perceives, states the atomism theory of Ajivikas, was mere juxtapositions of atoms of various types, and the combinations occur always in fixed ratios governed by certain cosmic rules, forming skandha (molecules, building blocks).[9][36] Atoms, asserted the Ajivikas, cannot be seen by themselves in their pure state, but only when they aggregrate and form bhutas (objects).[9] They further argued that properties and tendencies are characteristics of the objects. The Ajivikas then proceeded to justify their belief in determinism and "no free will" by stating that everything experienced – sukha (joy), dukkha (sorrow) and jiva (life) – is mere function of atoms operating under cosmic rules.[9][36]

Riepe states that the details of the Ajivikas theory of atomism provided the foundations of later modified atomism theories found in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu traditions.[36]

Antinomian ethics

Another doctrine of Ajivikas philosophy, according to Buddhist texts, was their antinomian ethics, that is there exist "no objective moral laws".[15][44] Buddhaghosa summarizes this view as, "There is neither cause nor basis for the sins of living beings and they become sinful without cause or basis. There is neither cause nor basis for the purity of living beings and they become pure without cause or basis. All beings, all that have breath, all that are born, all that have life, are without power, or strength, or virtue, but are the result of destiny, chance and nature, and they experience joy and sorrow in six classes".[15]

Despite this ascribed premise of antinomian ethics, both Jain and Buddhist records note that Ājīvikas lived a simple ascetic life, without clothes and any material possessions.[3][6]

Tamil literature on Ajivikas suggests that they practiced Ahimsa (non-violence) and a vegetarian lifestyle.[45] Arthur Basham notes that Buddhist and Jaina texts variously accuse Ajivikas of immorality, unchastity and worldliness, but they also acknowledge the confusion among Buddhists and Jainas when they observed the simple, ascetic lifestyle of Ajivikas.[46]


The Ajivikas had a fully elaborate philosophy, produced by its scholars and logicians, but those texts are lost.[47] Their literature evolved over the centuries, like other traditions of Indian philosophy, through the medieval era. The Pali and Prakrit texts of Buddhism and Jainism suggest that Ajivika theories were codified, some of which were quoted in commentaries produced by Buddhist and Jaina scholars.[47]

The main texts of the Ajivikas included the ten Purvas (eight Mahanimittas, two Maggas) and the Onpatu Katir.[47] The Mahanimittas of Ajivikas, claims Bhagavati Sutra, was extracted from the teachings Gosala received from Mahavira, when he was a disciple.[17]

The belief of Ajivikas in absolute determinism and influence of cosmic forces led them to develop extensive sections in their Mahanimittas texts on mapping the sun, moon, planets, stars and their role in astrology and fortune telling.[48][49]


Isaeva states that the ideas of Ajivika influenced Buddhism and various schools of Hinduism.[2] Riepe states an example of an influential Ajivika theory was its theory on atomism.[36] Basham suggests Ajivikas may have possibly influenced the medieval era doctrines of Dvaita Vedanta sub-school of Hinduism.[50]

Conflict between Ajivikas, Buddhists and Jains

According to the 2nd century CE text Ashokavadana, the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and his chief queen Shubhadrangi were believers of this philosophy, that reached its peak of popularity during this time. Ashokavadana also mentions that after his conversion to Buddhism, Bindusara's son Ashoka issued an order to kill all the Ajivikas in Pundravardhana, enraged at a picture that depicted Gautama Buddha in a negative light. Around 18,000 followers of the Ajivika sect were supposedly executed as a result of this order.[51][52] The entire story may be apocryphal.[53][54][55]

An earlier Jaina text, the Bhagavati Sutra, similarly mentions a debate, disagreement and then "coming to blows" between factions led by Mahavira and by Gosala.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Marianne Yaldiz, Herbert Härtel, Along the Ancient Silk Routes: Central Asian Art from the West Berlin State Museums; an Exhibition Lent by the Museum Für Indische Kunst, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982, p. 78
  2. ^ a b c d e Natalia Isaeva (1993), Shankara and Indian Philosophy, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791412817, pages 20-23
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i James Lochtefeld, "Ajivika", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798, page 22
  4. ^ Jeffrey D Long (2009), Jainism: An Introduction, Macmillan, ISBN 978-1845116255, page 199
  5. ^ a b Basham 1951, pp. 145-146.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Basham 1951, Chapter 1.
  7. ^ a b c Paul Dundas (2002), The Jains (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415266055, pages 28-30
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Ajivikas World Religions Project, University of Cumbria, United Kingdom
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Basham 1951, pp. 262-270.
  10. ^ Johannes Quack (2014), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Editors: Stephen Bullivant, Michael Ruse), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199644650, page 654
  11. ^ Analayo (2004), Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization, ISBN 978-1899579549, pp. 207-208
  12. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 240-261.
  13. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 270-273.
  14. ^ Arthur Basham, Kenneth Zysk (1991), The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195073492, Chapter 4
  15. ^ a b c DM Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812932, pages 39-40
  16. ^ AjIvika Monier Williams Sanskrit English Dictionary, Cologne Sanskrit Digital Lexicon, Germany
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j A Hoernle, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, Volume 1, p. PA259, at Google Books, Editor: James Hastings, Charles Scribner & Sons, Edinburgh, pages 259-268
  18. ^ a b Jarl Charpentier (July 1913), Ajivika, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Cambridge University Press, pages 669-674
  19. ^ John R. Hinnells (1995), Ajivaka, A New Dictionary of Religions, Wiley-Blackwell Reference, ISBN 978-0631181392
  20. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 122-123.
  21. ^ a b The Ajivikas BM Barua, University of Calcutta, pages 10-17
  22. ^ D. M. Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812932, pages 34-46
  23. ^ P.T. Raju (1985), Structural Depths of Indian Thought, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0887061394, page 147
  24. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 148-153.
  25. ^ "அய்யனார், ஐயப்பன், ஆசீவகம்! - பேராசிரியர் க.நெடுஞ்செழியன் நேர்காணல்". CommonFolks. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  26. ^ Basham 1951, p. 35.
  27. ^ Basham 1951, p. 36.
  28. ^ The Edicts of King Ashoka Ven. S. Dhammika, Colorado State University Archive
  29. ^ Pia Brancaccio (2014), Cave Architecture of India, in Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-3934-5, pages 1-9
  30. ^ Basham 1951, p. 48.
  31. ^ Basham 1951, p. 31.
  32. ^ a b Entrance to one of the Barabar Hill caves British Library.
  33. ^ Long, Jeffery D (2009). Jainism. New York: I. B. Tauris. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-84511-626-2.
  34. ^ Jayatilleke 1963, p. 142.
  35. ^ DM Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812932, pages 42-45
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h Dale Riepe (1996), Naturalistic Tradition in Indian Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120812932, pages 41-44 with footnotes
  37. ^ a b c Jayatilleke 1963, p. 140-161.
  38. ^ Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (2014), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199644650, page 654
  39. ^ GR Garg (1992), Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1, South Asia Books, ISBN 978-8170223740, page 281
  40. ^ Basham 1951, p. 272.
  41. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 269-273.
  42. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 248-256.
  43. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 276-280, 186.
  44. ^ Basham 1951, p. 4.
  45. ^ Basham 1951, p. 123.
  46. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 123-127.
  47. ^ a b c Basham 1951, pp. 213-223.
  48. ^ Kailash Chand Jain (2010), History of Jainism: Jainism before and in the age of Mahāvīra, ISBN 978-8124605486, pages 414-415
  49. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 124-127.
  50. ^ Basham 1951, pp. 149, 282, 327.
  51. ^ John S. Strong (1989). The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 232. ISBN 978-81-208-0616-0. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  52. ^ Beni Madhab Barua (5 May 2010). The Ajivikas. General Books. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-1-152-74433-2. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  53. ^ Steven L. Danver, ed. (22 December 2010). Popular Controversies in World History: Investigating History's Intriguing Questions: Investigating History's Intriguing Questions. ABC-CLIO. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-59884-078-0. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  54. ^ Le Phuoc (March 2010). Buddhist Architecture. Grafikol. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-9844043-0-8. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  55. ^ Benimadhab Barua (5 May 2010). The Ajivikas. University of Calcutta. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-1-152-74433-2. Retrieved 30 October 2012.


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Australian philosophy

Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.


Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.

Danish philosophy

Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.

Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.

Eastern philosophy

Eastern philosophy or Asian philosophy includes the various philosophies that originated in East and South Asia including Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy which are dominant in East Asia and Vietnam, and Indian philosophy (including Buddhist philosophy) which are dominant in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Mongolia.


Ekāgratā (Sanskrit: एकाग्रता, "one-pointedness") is intent pursuit of one object, close and undisturbed attention. Yoga emphasises regular practice (Abhyasa) meditation and self-imposed discipline to acquire ekagrata.

Indian philosophy

Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.There are six major schools of orthodox Indian Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions.The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Yoga, Śaiva and Vedanta survived, but others, like Ajñana, Charvaka and Ājīvika did not.

Ancient and medieval era texts of Indian philosophies include extensive discussions on Ontology (metaphysics, Brahman-Atman, Sunyata-Anatta), reliable means of knowledge (epistemology, Pramanas), value system (axiology) and other topics.

Kasaya (attachment)

Kasaya is attachment to worldly objects and is an obstacle in the path leading to Nirvikalpa Samadhi: it is overcome through viveka, discrimination.


Lakshana (Sanskrit: लक्षण lakṣaṇa) – derived from the combination of words lakshya and kshana – means 'indication' or 'symptom'. It also means 'an auspicious mark', 'attribute' or 'quality'. In Tamil language, Lakshanam means "features". Sulakshana means good features.

Parinama-vada (Hindu thought)

Pariṇāma-vāda (Sanskrit: परिणामवाद), or theTransformation theory is that which pre-supposes the cause to be continually transforming itself into its effects, and it has three variations – the Satkarya-vada of the Samkhyas, the Prakrti Parinama-vada of the Saiva Siddhanta and the Brahma-Parinama-vada of the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta School of Thought.


Prabhākara (active c. 7th century) was an Indian philosopher-grammarian in the Mīmāṃsā tradition. His views and his debate with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa led to the Prābhākara school within Mīmāṃsā. The Prābhākara school is considered to be nastik (atheistic) or Lokayata school. Kumārila said: For in practice the Mimamsa has been for the most part converted into a Lokayata system; But I have made this effort to bring it into a theistic path.Śālikanātha wrote commentaries on Prabhākara in the 8th century.


Pratibimbavada (Sanskrit: प्रतिबिम्बवाद) or the theory of reflection, whose origin can be traced to the Brahma Sutra II.iii.50, is credited to Padmapada, the founder of the Vivarna School of Advaita Vedanta and the author of Pancapadika which is a commentary on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhasya. According to the Vivarna School, Brahman is the locus of Avidya , and which, with regard to the relation existing between the Jiva and Brahman, concludes that the Jiva is a mere reflection (pratibimba) of its prototype (bimba) i.e. of Brahman, and therefore, identical with its essence, Brahman. This school holds the view that the mahavakya, tat tvam asi, is sufficient for the attainment of enlightenment, of the realization of the identity between the self and Reality.

Sadananda (of Vedantasara)

Sadananda Yogendra Saraswati, the exponent of the Advaita Vedanta as taught by Adi Shankara and the renowned author of Vedantasara which is one of the best known Prakarana Granthas (text-books) of the philosophy of the Upanishads, was the son of Anantadeva, and probably lived in mid-15th century A.D. He is also reputed to have written - Vedantasiddhanta-sarasangraha, Bhavaprakasa on Bhagavad Gita and Brahmasutra-tatpryaprakasa – which are works of equal repute and importance. Not much is known about the life of this acharya. Hiriyanna states that Sadananda of Vedantasara is different from the Sadananda of Advaitbrahmansiddhi the text that was published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.In his works Sadananda stresses the liberated being’s freedom from bondage, detachment from the body, and constant goodness, although being beyond virtue. The liberated being after having lived out his prarabdha karma merges with Brahman.Advayananda was the Guru of Sadananda.


Samādhāna or samādhānam (Sanskrit:समाधानम्) is a Sanskrit noun derived from the word, samādhā (समाधा), and variously means – putting together, uniting, fixing the mind in abstract contemplation on the true nature of the soul, contemplate oneness, concentrated or formless meditation, commitment, intentness, steadiness, composure, peace of mind, complete concentration, clearing up of doubt or replying to the pūrvapaksha, agreeing or promising, a leading incident, justification of a statement, proof, reconciliation or eagerness.Samādhāna, which develops mental concentration, is one of the six virtues (shad sampat) that a seeker after truth is expected to develop so as to cultivate the attitude of detachment from all selfish-ends; it develops the ability to hold the mind on a single point. For achieving this qualification the mind is required to be sufficiently trained, and is achieved by the combination of the other five virtues – sama, dama, uparati, titiksha and śraddhā. Shankara defines it as a state of poise and tranquility that the mind gains when it is trained to revel continuously in the concept of a perfect ideal, at once universal and omnipotent.Samādhāna is the single-pointedness of the mind (चित्तैकाग्रता); it is the state of the mind which one has with a single goal in sight which is gained on the strength of the control of the mind and the senses, with-drawl from worldly pursuits, endurance of life-pangs and faith in the scriptures and teacher’s instructions. It is one of the four requisites for realization of Brahman (sadhana Chatushtaya) that directs the energy of consciousness towards moksha ('liberation') and not towards siddhi or vibhuti ('accomplishments').

In the Mahabharata(277:6), samādhāna is explained as the absorption of meditation or as that state of mind in which one has no longer any affection for the world. In his Vivekachudamani (Sloka 27), Shankara explains that:-

सम्यगास्थापनं बुद्धेः शुद्धे ब्रह्मणि सर्वदा |

तत्समाधानमित्युक्तं न तु चित्तस्य लालनम् ||the perfect establishment of the buddhi always in the pure (nirguna) Brahman (free from all limitations) is said to be samādhāna, not the indulgence of the mind (not giving free rein to the mind to stray at will).


Sankalpa (Sanskrit: संकल्प) means an intention formed by the heart and mind -- a solemn vow, determination, or will. In practical terms a Sankalpa means a one-pointed resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal. A sankalpa is a tool meant to harness the will, and to focus and harmonize mind and body.


A Sanskrit Dictionary gives more than eighty meanings of the Sanskrit word, Sthiti (स्थिति), but this word mainly refers to position, rank or dignity, staying, or permanence, permanent or continued existence in any place.

Turkish philosophy

Turkish philosophy has long been affected by Islam and the country's proximity to Greece and ancient Greek philosophy.


Utsāha is an essential factor in matters governing human thoughts and actions, and directs all human achievements because primarily it is the strength of will, firmness of resolve, energy and power, endurance and perseverance, and the joy and elation resulting from achievement of pre-determined objectives.

Āstika and nāstika

Āstika (Sanskrit आस्तिक IAST: āstika) derives from the Sanskrit asti, "there is, there exists", and means “one who believes in the existence (of a soul separate from the material world, Brahman, etc.)” and nāstika means "an unbeliever". These have been concepts used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, and some Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts. Āstika has been defined in one of three ways; as those who accept the epistemic authority of the Vedas, as those who accept the existence of ātman, or as those who accept the existence of Ishvara. In contrast, nāstika are those who deny the respective definitions of āstika.The various definitions for āstika and nāstika philosophies has been disputed since ancient times, and there is no consensus. Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, but the Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions.The most studied Āstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as orthodox schools, are six: Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta. The most studied Nāstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as heterodox schools, are four: Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, and Ājīvika. This orthodox-heterodox terminology is a construct of Western languages, and lacks scholarly roots in Sanskrit. Recent scholarly studies state that there have been various heresiological translations of Āstika and Nāstika in 20th century literature on Indian philosophies, but quite many are unsophisticated and flawed.

Astika and Nāstika do not mean "theism" and "atheism" respectively in ancient or medieval era Sanskrit literature. In current Indian languages like Hindi, āstika and its derivatives usually mean "theist", while nāstika and its derivatives denote an "atheist.” However, the terms are used differently in Hindu philosophy. For example, Sāṃkhya is both an atheist (as it does not accept an anthropomorphic God) and āstika (Vedic) philosophy, though “God” is often used as an epithet for consciousness (purusa) within its doctrine.


Śramaṇa (Sanskrit: श्रमण; Pali: samaṇa) means "one who labours, toils, or exerts themselves (for some higher or religious purpose)" or "seeker, one who performs acts of austerity, ascetic". The term in early Vedic literature is predominantly used as an epithet for the Rishis with reference to Shrama associated with the ritualistic exertion. The term in these texts doesn't express non-Vedic connotations as it does in post-Vedic Buddhist and Jain canonical texts. During its later semantic development, the term came to refer to several non-Brahmanical ascetic movements parallel to but separate from the Vedic religion. The śramaṇa tradition includes Jainism, Buddhism, and others such as the Ājīvikas, Ajñanas and Cārvākas.The śramaṇa movements arose in the same circles of mendicants in ancient India that led to the development of yogic practices, as well as the popular concepts in all major Indian religions such as saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).The Śramaṇic traditions have a diverse range of beliefs, ranging from accepting or denying the concept of soul, fatalism to free will, idealization of extreme asceticism to that of family life, wearing dress to complete nudity in daily social life, strict ahimsa (non-violence) and vegetarianism to permissibility of violence and meat-eating.


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