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DharmaIts Early History in Law, Religion, and Narrative$
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Alf Hiltebeitel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195394238

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394238.001.0001

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Dharma over Time, II

Dharma over Time, II

Prophesies of Disaster

(p.273) 7 Dharma over Time, II

Alf Hiltebeitel

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 is about the two “minor dharma texts” mentioned in chapter 1: the Brahmanical Yuga Purāṇa (a unit by that name in an astronomical treatise) which foretells the decline of dharma toward the end of the Kali Yuga, and a cluster of mainly North Indian Buddhist texts (the earliest is probably The Prophesy of Kātyāyana) that predict a debacle at Kauśāmbī that will spell the end of the Buddhist dharma. The chapter compares these two prophetic treatments of dharma's change over time. Although probably known only in separate Brahmanical and Buddhist circles, they were impacted by much the same geography and history: the invasions of Greeks, Śakas, and Parthians into India. The Yuga Purāṇa focuses in on the rule by Śuṅga and so‐called Agniveśya kings after the fall of the Mauryan dynasty. The Buddhist texts highlight the Kuṣāṇa dynasty. The first part compares treatments of yugadharma and history (itihāsa) in the Yuga Purāṇa and the Mahābhārata, arguing against some who have viewed the Yuga Purāṇa's treatment as earlier, and the Mahābhārata's story ending the Kali Yuga with the appearance of Kalki to be later. It ties the four‐yuga sequence in these texts to the Greek schema of ages named after four metals. The discussion of Buddhist chronometry then revolves around Vinaya and definitions of the “true dharma” (saddharma) and the “semblance dharma” (saddharma‐pratirūpaka), and, in Far Eastern elaborations, the Final Dharma (Chinese mo‐fa; Japanese mappō).

Keywords:   yuga, Yuga Purāna, Mahābhārata, Prophesy of Kātyāyana, Kauśāmbī, Greek, Śaka, Parthian invasions, Kali Yuga, yugadharma, Kalki, itihāsa, Greek theory of ages, Śuṇga and Kuṣāṇa dynasties, Vinaya, saddharma, saddharma‐pratirūpaka, mappō

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