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The Asrama System : The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution - Patrick Olivelle

The Asrama System

The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution

Hardcover Published: 14th October 1993
ISBN: 9780195083279
Number Of Pages: 288

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The lesser known and explored of the two pillars of Hinduism--=a'srama and var.na--=a'srama is the name given to a system of four distinct and legitimate ways of leading a religious life: as a celibate student, a married householder, a forest hermit, and a world renouncer. In this, the first full-length study of the =a'srama system, Olivelle uncovers its origin and traces its subsequent history. He examines in depth its relationship to other institutional and doctrinal aspects of the Brahmanical world and its position within Brahmanical theology, and assesses its significance within the history of Indian religion. Throughout, he argues that the =a'srama system is primarily a theological construct and that the system and its history should be carefully distinguished from the socio-religious institutions comprehended by the system and from their respective histories.

Industry Reviews

"Patrick Olivelle's revelatory book-the first full-length study of asrama-begins to right the balance and in the process greatly expands our understanding of Indian civilization. As a bonus, it gives the reader a valuable education in the principles of Brahmanical hermeneutics....This is a work that will interest anyone concerned with the cultural role of the exegetical impulse. It is also a work that nobody with a serious interest in Indian civilization should leave unread." --History of Religions

"Olivelle's study is both revisionist and exemplary....An intellectually engaging study of the way ideas evolve and change within a tradition. Highly recommended."--Religious Studies Review

"[A] superb volume....[A] masterful account..."--The Journal of Religion

"This is the first book-length study of the asrama system, and should revolutionize current thinking and teaching on the subject....Olivelle's work is careful, and instructive....Full of interesting information and argumentation....The Asrama System is helpful and thought-provoking."--Journal of the American Oriental System

..".a book which illuminates not only the history of the asramar system but much else in the tradition of Indian hermeneutics. All in all, this is a book to be warmly welcomed and carefully studied."--Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Abbreviationsp. xi
Prologuep. 3
Meaning and Methodp. 7
The Meaning of Asramap. 8
The Meaning of Sramap. 9
The Meaning of Sramanap. 11
Asrama as a Place and as a Way of Lifep. 16
The Original Meaning of Asramap. 19
The Meaning of the Asrama Systemp. 24
The System as a Theological Constructp. 24
The System as a Social Institutionp. 27
Issues of Methodp. 28
The System and the Institutionsp. 28
The Original Formulation and the Origin of the Systemp. 30
The Sourcesp. 33
The Asrama System and Brahmanical Hermeneuticsp. 34
Background and Contextp. 35
The Vedic Ideal of Religious Lifep. 35
Marriage and Sacrificep. 37
Marriage and Procreationp. 41
The Theology of Debtsp. 46
The Theology of the Great Sacrificesp. 53
The Socio-Economic Contextp. 55
Rival Views of Religious Lifep. 58
The Emergence of a New Worldp. 62
The Householder and the Celibatep. 64
The Aryan and the Non-Aryan in Indian Asceticismp. 68
The Early Period
The Originsp. 73
The Original Formulationp. 73
Choice of Asramap. 74
The Asramas as Permanent and Adult Vocationsp. 78
The Three Celibate Asramasp. 80
Initiatory Studentship as Preparation for the Asramasp. 80
Who Was Entitled to Choose an Asrama?p. 81
The Order of Asramasp. 82
Controversy and Debatep. 83
The Legitimacy of the Asrama Systemp. 83
The Debate over Relative Superiorityp. 91
Authorshipp. 94
Was the Asrama System a Defense of Orthodoxy?p. 94
The Asrama System as a Theological Innovationp. 96
Kapila, Samkhya, and the Asramasp. 98
The Purpose of the Asrama Systemp. 100
Datep. 101
The Silence of the Ramayanap. 103
The Silence of the Bhagavad Gitap. 103
The Pre-History of the Asrama System and the Question of the Three Asramasp. 106
Ingredients of Changep. 112
The Third Asrama and the Problem of the Hermitp. 112
The Special Provisions of Apastambap. 113
The Institutions of Old Agep. 114
The Fourth Asrama and the Time of Renunciationp. 117
The Time of Renunciation in the Samnyasa Upanisadsp. 117
The Time of Renunciation in Deutero-Baudhayanap. 119
Renunciation and Old Agep. 120
Ritual Appropriations of Renunciationp. 122
Renunciation as the Abandonment of Ritualp. 122
Renunciation and the Rite In Extremisp. 123
The Asramas and the Rites of Passagep. 126
The Classical Period
The Classical Asrama Systemp. 131
Description of the Classical Systemp. 131
The Hermeneutics of the Classical Systemp. 134
The Classical System in the Smrtisp. 136
Manup. 137
Yajnavalkyap. 142
Visnup. 144
Vaikhanasa Smartasutrap. 145
The Mahabharatap. 148
The Original System in the Classical Periodp. 151
The Arthasastrap. 151
The Mahabharatap. 153
The Puranasp. 155
Miscellaneous Sourcesp. 158
Medieval Theologiansp. 159
Development of the Classical Systemp. 161
Classifications of the Asramasp. 161
Early Classifications of the Four Institutionsp. 162
Formal Classifications of the Asramasp. 165
Hermeneutics and the Classification of Renouncersp. 170
Modifications of the Classical Systemp. 173
Skipping the Third Asramap. 173
Renunciation as an Exception to the Classical Systemp. 177
The Asramas and Other Brahmanical Institutionsp. 183
Gender and Asramap. 183
Varna and Asramap. 190
Status of the Sudrasp. 192
Varna and Renunciationp. 195
The Asramas and Civil Authorityp. 201
The King as Guardian of the Asramasp. 201
The Asramas, Ascetics, and the Lawp. 204
Parisad and Asramap. 210
Asrama and Other Aspects of Dharmap. 214
Sets of Four: The Purusarthas and the Asramasp. 216
The Asrama System in Medieval Theologyp. 220
Anasramin: Obligation to Live in an Asramap. 220
Atyasramin: Transcendence of the Asramasp. 222
The Question of a Fifth Asramap. 232
Asrama and the Doctrine of Yugap. 234
The Legitimacy of the Asrama System: The Continuing Debatep. 237
Epiloguep. 244
Bibliographyp. 247
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195083279
ISBN-10: 019508327X
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 14th October 1993
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.67 x 16.2  x 2.41
Weight (kg): 0.61