Āstika and nāstika

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Āstika (Sanskrit आस्तिक IAST: āstika) derives from the Sanskrit asti, "there is, there exists", and means “one who believes in the existence (of a soul separate from the material world, Brahman, etc.)” and nāstika means "an unbeliever". [1] These have been concepts used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, and some Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts. [2] [3] [5] Āstika has been defined in one of three ways; as those who accept the epistemic authority of the Vedas, as those who accept the existence of ātman, or as those who accept the existence of Ishvara . [6] [7] In contrast, nāstika are those who deny the respective definitions of āstika. [6]

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period, and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma is an ancient Indian religion. Followers of Jainism are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina (victor) who connotes the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths by destroying the karma through an ethical and spiritual life. Jainism is a transtheistic religion, and Jains trace their spiritual ideas and history through a succession of twenty-four victorious saviours and teachers known as tirthankaras, with the first being Rishabhanatha, who according to Jain tradition lived millions of years ago, as Matsya the twenty-third being Parshvanatha in 900 BCE, and twenty-fourth being the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology.

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The various definitions for āstika and nāstika philosophies has been disputed since ancient times, and there is no consensus. [6] [8] Buddhism is considered to be nāstika, but the Gautama Buddha is considered an avatar of Vishnu in some Hindu traditions. [9]

Gautama Buddha the founder of Buddhism

Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama in Sanskrit or Siddhattha Gotama in Pali, ShakyamuniBuddha, or simply the Buddha, after the title of Buddha, was a monk (śramaṇa), mendicant, sage, philosopher, teacher and religious leader on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

Avatar incarnation of anything, particularly of a deity in Hinduism

An avatar, a concept in Hinduism that means "descent", is the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on earth. The relative verb to "alight, to make one's appearance" is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being.

Vishnu Hindu god, basis of Vaishnavism

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the Supreme Being or absolute truth in its Vaishnavism tradition. Vishnu is the "preserver" in the Hindu triad (Trimurti) that includes Brahma and Shiva.

The most studied Āstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as orthodox schools, are six: Nyāyá, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā, and Vedānta. The most studied Nāstika schools of Indian philosophies, sometimes referred to as heterodox schools, are four: Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, and Ājīvika. [10] [11] This orthodox-heterodox terminology is a construct of Western languages, and lacks scholarly roots in Sanskrit. Recent scholarly studies [6] state that there have been various heresiological translations of Āstika and Nāstika in 20th century literature on Indian philosophies, but quite many are unsophisticated and flawed.

Orthodoxy adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion

Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means "conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church." The first seven ecumenical councils were held between the years of 325 and 787 with the aim of formalizing accepted doctrines.

Nyāya, literally means "rules", "method" or "judgment". It is also the name of one of the six orthodox (astika) schools of Hinduism. This school's most significant contributions to Indian philosophy was systematic development of the theory of logic, methodology, and its treatises on epistemology.

Vaisheshika or Vaiśeṣika is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy from ancient India. In its early stages, the Vaiśeṣika was an independent philosophy with its own metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and soteriology. Over time, the Vaiśeṣika system became similar in its philosophical procedures, ethical conclusions and soteriology to the Nyāya school of Hinduism, but retained its difference in epistemology and metaphysics.

Astika and Nāstika do not mean "theism" and "atheism" respectively in ancient or medieval era Sanskrit literature. [6] In current Indian languages like Hindi, āstika and its derivatives usually mean "theist", while nāstika and its derivatives denote an "atheist.” [12] However, the terms are used differently in Hindu philosophy. [13] For example, Sāṃkhya is both an atheist (as it does not accept an anthropomorphic God) and āstika (Vedic) philosophy, though “God” is often used as an epithet for consciousness (purusa) within its doctrine. [14]

Hindi Indo-Aryan language spoken in India

Hindi, or Modern Standard Hindi is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of the official languages of India, along with the English language. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India. However, it is not the national language of India because no language was given such a status in the Indian constitution.

Theism belief in the existence of at least one deity

Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of the Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Etymology

Āstika is a Sanskrit adjective (and noun) that is derived from asti ("there is or exists"), [1] meaning "knowing that which exists" or "pious." [15] The word Nāstika (na (not) + āstika) is its negative.

Sanskrit language of ancient India

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

One of the traditional etymologies of the term āstika–based on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī, 4.4.60 ("astināstidiṣṭam matiḥ") says ‘he whose opinion is that Īśvara exists’ ("asti īśvara iti matir yasya"). [16] Other definitions include "opposite of nāstika" (nāstika bhinna); "he whose idea is that Īśvara exists" (īśvara asti iti vādī); "he who considers the Vedas as authorities" (vedaprāmāṇyavādī). According to Sanskrit grammarian Hemachandra, āstika is a synonym for ‘he who believes’. [16]

Ishvara is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, depending on the context, Ishvara can mean supreme soul, ruler, lord, king, queen or husband. In medieval era Hindu texts, depending on the school of Hinduism, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self.

Vedas Ancient scriptures of Hinduism

The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman" and "impersonal, authorless".

Hemachandra 12th-century Jain scholar, poet, and polymath

Acharya Hemachandra was a Jain scholar, poet, and polymath who wrote on grammar, philosophy, prosody, and contemporary history. Noted as a prodigy by his contemporaries, he gained the title kalikālasarvajña, "the all-knowing of the Kali Yuga".

As used in Hindu philosophy, the differentiation between āstika and nāstika does not refer to theism or atheism. [6] The terms often, but not always, relate to accepting Vedic literature as an authority, particularly on their teachings on Self (Soul). The Veda and Hinduism do not subscribe to or include the concept of an almighty that is separate from oneself i.e. there is no concept of God in the Christian or Islamic sense. N. N. Bhattacharya writes:

The followers of Tantra were often branded as Nāstika by the political proponents of the Vedic tradition. The term Nāstika does not denote an atheist since the Veda presents a godless system with no singular almighty being or multiple almighty beings. It is applied only to those who do not believe in the Vedas. The Sāṃkhyas and Mīmāṃsakas do not believe in God, but they believe in the Vedas and hence they are not Nāstikas. The Buddhists, Jains, and Cārvākas do not believe in the Vedas; hence they are Nāstikas.

Bhattacharyya 1999, pp. 174

Āstika is also a name, such as that of a Vedic scholar born to the goddess Mānasā ("Mind") and the sage Jaratkaru. [17]

Classification of schools

The terms Āstika and Nāstika have been used to classify various Indian intellectual traditions.

Āstika Hindu

A list of six systems or ṣaḍdarśanas (also spelled Sad Darshan) consider Vedas as a reliable source of knowledge and an authoritative source. [18] These are the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta schools of Hinduism, and they are classified as the āstika schools:

  1. Nyāyá, the school of logic
  2. Vaiśeṣika, the atomist school
  3. Sāṃkhya, the enumeration school
  4. Yoga, the school of Patañjali (which assumes the metaphysics of Sāṃkhya)
  5. Mīmāṃsa, the tradition of Vedic exegesis
  6. Vedanta or Uttara Mimāṃsā, the Upaniṣadic tradition.

These are often coupled into three groups for both historical and conceptual reasons: Nyāyá-Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya-Yoga, and Mimāṃsā-Vedanta.

Nāstika Hindu

The main schools of Indian philosophy that reject the Vedas were regarded as heterodox in the Brahmanical tradition: [4]

  1. Buddhism
  2. Jainism
  3. Cārvāka
  4. Ājīvika
  5. Ajñana

The use of the term nāstika to describe Buddhism and Jainism in India is explained by Gavin Flood as follows:

At an early period, during the formation of the Upaniṣads and the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, we must envisage a common heritage of meditation and mental discipline practiced by renouncers with varying affiliations to non-orthodox (Veda-rejecting) and orthodox (Veda-accepting) traditions.... These schools [such as Buddhism and Jainism] are understandably regarded as heterodox (nāstika) by orthodox (āstika) Brahmanism.

Gavin Flood [19]

Tantric traditions in Hinduism have both āstika and nāstika lines; as Banerji writes in "Tantra in Bengal":

Tantras are ... also divided as āstika or Vedic and nāstika or non-Vedic. In accordance with the predominance of the deity the āstika works are again divided as Śākta, Śaiva, Saura, Gāṇapatya and Vaiṣṇava.

Banerji [20]

Discussion

Hinduism

Manusmriti, in verse 2.11, defines Nāstika as those who revile "Vedic literature based on two roots of science of reasoning (Śruti and Smriti)". [6] The 9th century Indian scholar Medhatithi analyzed this definition and stated that Nāstika does not mean someone who says "Vedic literature are untrue", but rather one who says "Vedic literature are immoral". Medhatithi further noted verse 8.309 of Manusmriti, to provide another aspect of the definition of Nāstika as one who believes, "there is no other world, there is no purpose in giving charity, there is no purpose in rituals and the teachings in the Vedic literature." [6]

Manusmriti does not define, or imply a definition for Astika. It is also silent or contradictory on specific rituals such as animal sacrifices, asserting Ahimsa (non-violence, non-injury) is dharma in its verses such as verse 10.63 based on Upanishadic layer of Vedic literature, even though the older layer of Vedic literature mention such sacrifices unlike the later layer of Vedic literature. [21] Indian scholars, such as those from Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya and Vedanta schools, accepted Astika to be those that include Śabda (शब्द, Aptavacana, testimony of Vedic literature and reliable experts) as a reliable means of epistemology, but they accepted the later ancient layer of the Vedic literature to be superseding the earlier ancient layer. [6]

Definition without reference to Vedas

In contrast to Manusmiriti, the 6th century CE Jain scholar and doxographer Haribhadra, provided a different perspective in his writings on Astika and Nāstika. Haribhadra did not consider "reverence for Vedas" as a marker for an Astika. He and other 1st millennium CE Jaina scholars defined Astika as one who "affirms there exists another world, transmigration exists, virtue (punya) exists, vice (paap) exists". [6] [8]

The 7th century scholars Jayaditya and Vamana, in Kasikavrtti of Pāṇini tradition, were silent on the role of or authority of Vedic literature in defining Astika and Nāstika. They state, "Astika is the one who believes there exists another world. The opposite of him is the Nāstika." [6] [22]

Similarly the widely studied 2nd-3rd century CE Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, in Chapter 1 verses 60-61 of Ratnāvalī, wrote Vaiśeṣika and Sāṃkhya schools of Hinduism were Nāstika, along with Jainism, his own school of Buddhism and Pudgalavadins (Vātsīputrīya) school of Buddhism. [23] [24]

Definition based on belief in Atman

Astika, in some texts, is defined as those who believe in the existence of Atman (Soul, Self, Spirit), while Nastika being those who deny there is any "soul, self" in human beings and other living beings. [7] [25] All six schools of Hinduism classified as Astika philosophies hold the premise, "Atman exists". Buddhism, in contrast, holds the premise, "Atman does not exist". [26] [27] Asanga Tilakaratna translates Astika as "positivism" and Nastika as "negativism", with Astika illustrated by Brahmanic traditions who accepted "soul and God exists", while Nastika as those traditions, such as Buddhism, who denied "soul and God exists". [28]

Jainism

According to G. S. Ghurye, the Jain texts define "na+astika" as one "denying what exists" or any school of philosophy that denies the existence of the soul. [29] The Vedanta sub-traditions of Hinduism are "astika" because they accept the existence of soul, while Buddhist traditions denying this are referred to as "nastika". [29]

One of the earliest mentions of astika concept in Jain texts is by Manibhadra, who states that an astika is one who "accepts there exist another world (paraloka), transmigration of soul, virtue and vice that affect how a soul journeys through time". [30]

The 5th–6th century Jainism scholar Haribhadra, states Andrew Nicholson, does not mention anything about accepting or rejecting the Vedas or god as a criterion for being an astika or nastika. Instead, Haribhadra explains nastika in the manner of the more ancient Jain scholar Manibhadra, by stating a nastika to be one "who says there is no other worlds, there is no purpose in charity, there is no purpose in offerings". [30] An astika, to Haribhadra, is one who believes that there is a purpose and merit in an ethical life such as ahimsa (non-violence) and ritual actions. [30] This exposition of the word astika and nastika by Haribhadra is similar to one by the Sanskrit grammarian and Hindu scholar Pāṇini in section 4.4.60 of the Astadhyayi. [31]

The 12th century Jaina scholar Hemachandra similarly states, in his text Abhidhana Cintamani, that a nastika is any philosophy that presumes or argues there is "no virtue and vice". [32]

Buddhism

Nagarjuna, according to Chandradhar Sharma, equates Nastikya to "nihilism". [33]

The 4th century Buddhist scholar Asanga, in Bodhisattva Bhumi, calls nastika Buddhists as sarvavai nasika, describing them as who are complete deniers. To Asanga, nastika are those who say "nothing whatsoever exists", and the worst kind of nastika are those who deny all designation and reality. [34] Astika are those who accept merit in and practice a religious life. [34] According to Andrew Nicholson, later Buddhists understood Asanga to be targeting Madhyamaka Buddhism as nastika, while considering his own Yogacara Buddhist tradition to be astika. [34] Initial interpretations of the Buddhist texts with the term astika and nastika, such as those composed by Nagarjuna and Asvaghosa, were interpreted as being directed at the Hindu traditions. But, states John Kelly, most later scholarship considers this as incorrect, and that the astika and nastika terms were directed towards the competing Buddhist traditions and the intended audience of the texts were Buddhist monks debating an array of ideas across various Buddhist traditions. [35]

The charges of being a nastika were serious threat to the social standing of a Buddhist, and could lead to expulsion from Buddhist monastic community. Thus, states Nicholson, the colonial era Indologist definition of astika and nastika schools of Indian philosophy, was based on a narrow study of literature such as a version of Manusmriti , while in truth these terms are more complex and contextually apply within the diverse schools of Indian philosophies. [34]

The most common meaning of astika and nastika, in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism was the acceptance and adherence to ethical premises, and not textual validity or doctrinal premises, states Nicholson. It is likely that astika was translated as orthodox, and nastika as heterodox, because the early European Indologists carried the baggage of Christian theological traditions and extrapolated their own concepts to Asia, thereby distorting the complexity of Indian traditions and thought. [34]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Monier-Williams 2006
  2. Roy Perrett (2000), Indian Philosophy, Routledge, ISBN   978-0815336112, page 88
  3. Sushil Mittal & Gene Thursby (2004), The Hindu World, Routledge, ISBN   978-0415772273, pages 729-730
  4. 1 2 Flood 1996, pp. 82.
  5. Flood: "These schools [such as Buddhism and Jainism] are understandably regarded as heterodox (nāstika) by orthodox (āstika) Brahmanism." [4]
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Andrew J. Nicholson (2013), Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University Press, ISBN   978-0231149877, Chapter 9
  7. 1 2 GS Ghurye, Indian Sociology Through Ghurye, a Dictionary, Ed: S. Devadas Pillai (2011), ISBN   978-8171548071, page 354
  8. 1 2 Wendy Doniger (2014), On Hinduism, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0199360079, page 46
  9. Literature review of secondary references of Buddha as Dashavatara which regard Buddha to be part of standard list:
  10. Flood 1996 , pp. 82, 224–49
  11. For an overview of this method of classification, with detail on the grouping of schools, see: Radhakrishnan & Moore 1989
  12. For instance Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine , the "Atheist Society of India" produces a monthly publications Nastika Yuga, which it translates as "The Age of Atheism".
  13. Chatterjee, Satischandra; Datta, Dhirendramohan (1984), An Introduction to Indian Philosophy (Eighth Reprint ed.), University of Calcutta, pp. 5, footnote 1, In modern Indian languages, "āstika" and "nāstika" generally mean "theist" and "atheist,” respectively. But in Sanskrit philosophical literature, "āstika" means "one who believes in the authority of the Vedas". ("nāstika" means the opposite of these). The word is used here in the first sense. The six orthodox schools are "āstika", and the Cārvāka is "nāstika" in both the senses.
  14. "By Sāṃkhya reasoning, the material principle itself simply evolves into complex forms, and there is no need to hold that some spiritual power governs the material principle or its ultimate source." Francis Clooney, CJ, "Restoring 'Hindu Theology' as a category in Indian intellectual discourse", in Francis Clooney (2008). Gavin Flood (ed.). The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Academic. pp. 451–455. ISBN   978-0-470-99868-7.
  15. Apte 1965 , pp. 240
  16. 1 2 Squarcini, Federico; Squarcini, Federico (2012). "Traditions against Tradition. Criticism, Dissent and the Struggle for the Semiotic Primacy of Veridiction": 446. doi:10.7135/UPO9781843313977.018.
  17. George Williams (2003), Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0195332612, page 65
  18. Flood 1996 , pp. 231–2
  19. Flood 1996, pp. 82
  20. Banerji 1992, pp. 2
  21. Sanskrit: Manusmriti with six scholar commentaries VN Mandlik, page 1310
    English: Manusmriti 10.63 Berkeley Center for World Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Georgetown University
  22. P. Haag and V. Vergiani (Eds., 2009), Studies in the Kāśikāvṛtti, Firenze : Società Editrice Fiorentina, ISBN   978-8860321145
  23. Markus Dressler and Arvind Mandair (2011), Secularism and Religion-Making, Oxford University Press, ISBN   978-0199782949, page 59 note 39
  24. Ernst Steinkellner (1991), Studies in the Buddhist Epistemological Tradition: Proceedings of the Second International Dharmakīrti Conference, Vienna, Volume 222, Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, ISBN   978-3700119159, pages 230-238
  25. C Sharma (2013), A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   978-8120803657, page 66
  26. Dae-Sook Suh (1994), Korean Studies: New Pacific Currents, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN   978-0824815981, page 171
  27. John C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN   978-8120801585, page 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism".
  28. Asanga Tilakaratna (2003, Editors: Anne Blackburn and Jeffrey Samuels), Approaching the Dhamma: Buddhist Texts and Practices in South and Southeast Asia, Pariyatti, ISBN   978-1928706199, pages 128-129;
    God, states Tilakaratna, in Brahmanic traditions is Parama-atma (universal soul, Ishvara, Brahman)
  29. 1 2 S. Devadas Pillai (1997). Indian Sociology Through Ghurye, a Dictionary. Popular Prakashan. pp. 353–354. ISBN   978-81-7154-807-1.
  30. 1 2 3 Andrew J. Nicholson (2013). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History. Columbia University Press. pp. 172–175. ISBN   978-0-231-14987-7.
  31. Andrew J. Nicholson (2013). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History. Columbia University Press. p. 173. ISBN   978-0-231-14987-7.
  32. Ramkrishna Bhattacharya (2011). Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata. Anthem Press. pp. 164–166. ISBN   978-0-85728-433-4.
  33. Chandradhar Sharma (2000). A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 101. ISBN   978-81-208-0365-7.
  34. 1 2 3 4 5 Andrew J. Nicholson (2013). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History. Columbia University Press. pp. 174–176. ISBN   978-0-231-14987-7.
  35. John D Kelly (1996). Jan E. M. Houben (ed.). Ideology and Status of Sanskrit: Contributions to the History of the Sanskrit Language. BRILL Academic. pp. 88–89. ISBN   90-04-10613-8.

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Indian philosophy systems of thought from the ancient and medieval era Indian subcontinent

Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.

Smriti, literally "that which is remembered" are a body of Hindu texts usually attributed to an author, traditionally written down, in contrast to Śrutis considered authorless, that were transmitted verbally across the generations and fixed. Smriti is a derivative secondary work and is considered less authoritative than Sruti in Hinduism, except in the Mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy. The authority of smriti accepted by orthodox schools, is derived from that of shruti, on which it is based.

Śramaṇa

Śramaṇa means "one who labours, toils, or exerts themselves " or "seeker, one who performs acts of austerity, ascetic". The term in early Vedic literature is predominantly used as an epithet for the Rishis with reference to Shrama associated with the ritualistic exertion. The term in these texts doesn't express non-Vedic connotations as it does in post-Vedic Buddhist and Jain canonical texts. During its later semantic development, the term came to refer to several non-Brahmanical ascetic movements parallel to but separate from the Vedic religion. The śramaṇa tradition includes Jainism, Buddhism, and others such as the Ājīvikas, Ajñanas and Cārvākas.

Dhyana in Hinduism The art of Hindu meditation

Dhyana in Hinduism means contemplation and meditation. Dhyana is taken up in Yoga exercises, and is a means to samadhi and self-knowledge.

Brahmā (Buddhism) deva and heavenly king in Buddhism; lord of the heavenly realm Brahmaloka; not regarded as a creator deity (unlike the deity of the same name in Hinduism)

Brahmā is a leading god (deva) and heavenly king in Buddhism. He was adopted from other Indian religions such as Hinduism that considered him a protector of teachings (dharmapala), and he is never depicted in early Buddhist texts as a creator god. In Buddhist tradition, it was the deity Brahma Sahampati who appeared before the Buddha and urged him to teach, once the Buddha attained enlightenment but was unsure if he should teach his insights to anyone.

Atheism or disbelief in God or gods has been a historically propounded viewpoint in many of the orthodox and heterodox streams of Indian philosophy. There are six major orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox (nāstika) schools of Śramaṇa—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka. The four most studied nāstika schools, those rejecting the doctrine of Vedas, are Jainism, Buddhism, Cārvāka, and Ājīvika.

Brahman metaphysical concept, unchanging Ultimate Reality in Hinduism

In Hinduism, Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe. In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.

Jainism and Hinduism are two ancient Indian religions. There are some similarities and differences between the two religions. Temples, gods, rituals, fasts and other religious components of Jainism are different from those of Hinduism.

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