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Basham, A. L. (1949) History and doctrines of the Ajivikas: A study in ancient Indian heterodoxy. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This work is a detailed study of the surviving references to the ancient Indian sect of Ajlvikas, It is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the history and the second with the doctrines of the sect. In the first part, after an introduction in which the historical background to the rise of Ajivikism is considered, the thesis deals with the six heretics of the Pali scriptures, and with the life story of Makkhali Gosala, the traditional founder of Ajvikism. Other contemporary heretical leaders who contributed something to Ajivika doctrine are also considered. These chapters are followed by two on the customs and practices of the early Ajivika community, and its relations with Buddhism and Jainism. After a chapter on the sect during the Nanda and Maurya periods, the fleeting references to the Ajivikas in later Sanskrit literature are examined. The final chapter of the first part treats of the Tamil evidence for the survival of Ajivikism in South India. The second part of the thesis commences with a study of quotations from Pali texts and from Jaina commentaries, which may emanate from Ajivika sources. The determinist doctrine which was the central feature of Ajivika philosophy is then considered, together with the development of this doctrine in the later period of Ajivikism. This is followed by a study of the cosmology of the Ajivikas and of their interpretation of the Indian doctrine of transmigration, Ajivika atomic theory , unnoticed by previous workers on the subject, is recona structed as far as possible from the available sources, together with other points of Ajivika doctrine. The thesis concludes with a consideration of the causes of the decline and disappearance of the Ajivikas, possible Ajivika influence on later Indian religious thought, and the significance of Ajivikism in Indian history.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:07

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