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Philosophy of Language

(9,677 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
The role of language in Indian philosophy is great, and indeed, much of this philosophy remains unintelligible without an awareness of the role that language plays in it. It can reasonably be maintained that an important part of Indian philosophy is philosophy of language, to be understood in the double sense of “philosophy inspired by language” and “reasoned inquiry into language.” An exclusive concentration on the latter of these two, however, would not do full justice to the role of language …
Date: 2019-01-30

Sūtras

(7,746 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
The word sūtra is used to designate two distinct categories of Sanskrit and Middle Indic literature. In one aspect, the word is used to designate collections of short aphoristic rules, each of which is called a sūtra: a Sūtra is in this way a collection of sūtras. Such Sūtras belong primarily, though not exclusively, to the various Śāstras (disciplines, sciences) of the Brahmanical tradition. The other kind of Sūtras are primarily, perhaps exclusively, found in the canonical literature of the Buddhists and the Jainas. These Sūtras are not s…
Date: 2019-01-30

Ājīvika

(4,369 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
An Ājīvika (“Follower of the Way of Life”; Dundas, 2002, 28) is an adherent of what has been called “a vanished Indian religion” (this is the subtitle of A.L. Basham’s classical study of this religion [1951]; note that the term “Ājīvika” was not exclusively used for adherents of this religion; see below). This religion (here called Ājīvikism) arose at the time of Jainism – or rather, at the time of the most recent Jaina tīrthaṅkara (or jina), Vardhamāna Mahāvīra – and in the same region. Its founder is known by the following names: Makkhali Gosāla (Pal.), Gosāla Maṅkhal…
Date: 2019-01-30

Saṃsāra and Karman in the Early Context

(2,792 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
It is beyond doubt that Jainism incorporated a belief in rebirth and karmic retribution from the beginning. What is more, it seems safe to claim that Jainism, right from the beginning, presented itself as a way to escape from the cycle of rebirths ( saṃsāra) and karmic retribution. Judging by the practices that we find prescribed already in our earliest sources, karmic retribution and the proposed liberation ( mokṣa) from it were envisaged in the following manner.Jainism’s path to liberation culminates in the total immobilization of body and mind. Indeed, this final imm…
Date: 2019-04-15

Formative Period of Jainism (c. 500 BCE – 200 CE)

(7,679 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
There is no unanimity on the question of when Jainism came into existence. The Jains themselves maintain that it was originally taught by Tīrthaṅkaras (ford makers). The most recent Tīrthaṅkara, still according to the Jains, was Mahāvīra, the last Tīrthaṅkara in the present world period, though not the first. According to a relatively late tradition, Mahāvīra was one of 24 Tīrthaṅkaras who lived in this world period and of whom complete lists have been preserved (Ohira, 1994a, 476–477).As in the case of the earlier buddhas claimed in Buddhism, it is plausible that the other Tīr…
Date: 2019-04-15

Veden

(518 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
[English Version] Veden, gemeinsam manchmal auch der Veda (Sg.), sind hl. Texte des Hinduismus. Die brahmanische Tradition (Brahman, vedische und brahmanische Religion) unterscheidet zw. zwei Arten von hl. Texten: śruti, »Offenbarung«, wörtl. »das Hören«, und smṛti, wörtl. »die Erinnerung«. Nur die V. sind śruti »Offenbarung«; die Autorität der smṛti ist von der śruti abgeleitet (jedenfalls theoretisch). Zus. bilden die V. eine Lit., die vedische Lit. also, deren innere Struktur ungefähr wie fol…

Vedas

(520 words)

Author(s): Bronkhorst, Johannes
[German Version] Vedas, sometime referred to collectively as the Veda, are the sacred texts of Hinduism. The Brahmanic tradition (Brahman, Vedic and Brahmanic religion) distinguishes two types of sacred texts: śruti, “revelation,” literally “hearing,” and smṛti, literally “remembering.” Only the Vedas are śruti, “revelation”; the authority of smṛti drives from śruti (at least in theory). Collectively the Vedas constitute a literature, Vedic literature, whose internal structure may be described roughly as follows. Most commonly four Vedas are di…