Echoes of 'Ajivikism' in Medieval Indian Philosophy
'Ajivikism', though 'a vanished Indian religion' (Basham), has survived until well into the second millennium CE. The author presented a reconstruction of its main doctrinal basis in an earlier article, and more recently in his book 'Greater Magadha' (Brill; 2007). Unlike 'Jainism', to which it is otherwise close, 'Ajivikism' did not accept that asceticism can destroy the traces of earlier deeds. Karmic retribution follows its own course, and cannot be interfered with. Liberation takes place when karmic retribution has run its course, which takes an unimaginably long time. These 'vanished' ideas pop up again in the writing of Sridhara, a 'Vaisesika' commentator, who here elaborates some statements by the 'Mimamsa' author Kumarila Bhatta. Kumarila was perhaps the first 'Mimamsaka' to accept the notion of liberation. By dressing it up in an 'Ajivika' garment and emphasising that liberation is unimaginably far away, he could then introduce the idea that 'Vedic' ritual was a short-cut toward that goal.
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