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GṛhasthaThe Householder in Ancient Indian Religious Culture$
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Patrick Olivelle

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190696153

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190696153.001.0001

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Gṛhastha, Āśrama, and the Origin of Dharmaśāstra

Gṛhastha, Āśrama, and the Origin of Dharmaśāstra

(p.107) 7 Gṛhastha, Āśrama, and the Origin of Dharmaśāstra

Patrick Olivelle

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes a new theory on the origin of the āśrama system and of the literature of Dharmaśāstra. The distinction between gṛhastha and pravrajita, given in the Aśokan inscriptions and figuring prominently in the āśrama system, indicates that this system owes its origin to that initial distinction within the Brahmanical communities called pāṣaṇḍa by Aśoka. The chapter further proposes that the origin of the Dharmaśāstras may also be found in the gṛhastha-centered theology of Brahmanism. While the proponents of the āśramas envisage these four modes of life as being equal and open to all, the Dharmaśāstras themselves focus on the householder and his religious and social obligations.

Keywords:   gṛhastha, pravrajita, pāṣaṇḍa, āśrama, Dharmaśāstra, Dharmasūtra, Aśoka

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