A class of naked Asketen (see, z.B., Vin.i.291), followers of Makkhali Gosāla, regarded, from the Buddhist point of view, as the worst of sophists. Numerous references to the ājīvakas are to be found in the Pitakas, only a few of them being at all complimentary. Thus in the Mahā Saccaka Sutta (*) they are spoken of as going about naked, flouting life's decencies und licking their hands after meals.

(*) M.i.238; siehe auch S.i.66, where a deva praises Gosāla as a man who had attained to perfect self-control by fasting und austere practices. He had abandoned speech und wordy strife mit any person, was equable, a speaker of truth, a doer of no evil. That the life of the ājīvakas was austere may be gleaned from their condemnation of Mönche carrying parasols (Viii.ii.130).

But they never incurred the guilt

It is erwähnt that they did not always find it possible to adhere to this rigid code of conduct.

It is stated in the Tevijja Vacchagotta Sutta (M.i.483) that far from any ājīvaka having put an end to sorrow, der Buddha could recall nur one ājīvaka during ninety-nine kappas who had even gone to heaven, und that one too had prjedeed a doctrine of kamma und the after-consequences of actions. An anderer Stelle (M.i.524) they are spoken of as children of a childless Mutter. They extol themselves und disparage others und yet they have produced nur drei shining lights:

A fourth leader, Panduputta, of wagon-Gebäude stock, is erwähnt in the Anangana Sutta (M.i.31); there is auch the well-known Upaka.

There is no doubt that the ājīvaka were highly esteemed und had large followings of Schüler (See, z.B., Pasenadi's evidence in S.i.68, apart from Ajātasattu's visit erwähnt in the Sāmaññaphala Sutta; auch S.iv.398). They had eminent followers such as high court officials (Vin.ii.166; iv.71) und that, for centuries at least, they retained an important position, is shown by their being thrice erwähnt in the Asoka Edicts as receiving royal gifts (Hultsch: Asoka Inscriptions, siehe Index).

The doctrines held by the ājīvaka are erwähnt in several places, aber the best known account is in the Sāmaññaphala Sutta where they are attributed to Makkhali Gosāla by name (D.i.53-4. Siehe auch M.i.516f). He maintained that there is no cause oder reason for either depravity oder purity among beings. There is no such thing as intrinsic strength, oder energy oder human might or endeavour. All creatures, all beings, everything that has life, all are devoid of power, strength und energy; all are unter the compulsion of the individual nature to which they are linked by destiny; it is solely by virtue of their Geburt in the sechs environments (chalabhijātiyo) that they experience their pleasure oder pain. The universe is divided into various classes of beings, of occupations und methods of production. There are eighty-four hundert tausend periods during which both fools und wise alike, wandering in transmigration, shall at last make an end of pain. The pleasures und pain, measured out as it were mit a measure, cannot be altered in the course of transmigration; there can be neither increase nor decrease thereof, neither excess nor deficiency.

The fundamental point in their tjedeing seems, therefore, to have been "samsāra-suddhi," purification through transmigration, which wahrscheinlich meant that all beings, all lives, all existent things, all living substances attain und must attain, perfection in course of time.

According to Buddhaghosa (DA.i.161), in the classification of the ājīvaka:

The division of men into sechs classes (chalabhijātiyo) is noteworthy. Buddhaghosa describes these as being kanha, nīla, lohita, halidda, sukka und paramasukka. This closely resembles the curious Jaina doctrine of the sechs Lesyas. Given, z.B., in the Uttarādhyāyana Sutra (Jacobi's Jaina Sūtras ii.213). This seems to involve a conception of mind which is originally colourless by nature. The different colours (nīla, etc.) are due to different habits oder actions. The supreme spiritual effort consists in restoring mind to its original purity. Vergl. mit this der Buddha's tjedeing in A.iii.384ff. und M.i.36.

In the Anguttara Nikāya (iii.383-4) a similar doctrine is attributed to Pūrana Kassapa.

Gosāla's theory (D.i.54; siehe auch S.iii.211) of the divisions of the universe into vierzehn hundert tausend principle states of Geburt - (pamukhayoniyo) und into various methods of regeneration - viz.,

seems to show that the ājīvaka believed in infinite gradations of existence, in the infinity of time, und auch in the recurrent cycles of existence. Each individual has external existence, if not individually, at least in type. In the world as a whole everything comes about by necessity. Fate (nigati) regulates everything, all things being unalterably fixed. Just as a ball of string when cast forth spreads out just as far as, und no farther than it can unwind, so every being lives, acts, enjoys und ultimately ends, in the manner in which it is destined (sandhavitvā, samsaritvā dukkhassantam karissanti). The peculiar nature (bhāva) (DA.i.161) of jede being depends on the class oder species oder type to which it belongs.

Among the views of the Puthusamanas (other tjedeers), der Buddha regarded the doctrine of the ājīvaka as the least desirable. It denied

und was therefore despicable (patikhitto) (A.i.286).

Der Buddha knew of no other single person fraught mit such danger und sorrow to all devas und men as was Makkhali; like a fish-trap set at a river mouth, Makkhali was born into the world to be a man-trap for the distress und destruction of men (A.i.33).

According to Buddhaghosa (DA.i.166),

It has been suggested (z.B. Barua: Pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy, p.314) that Makkhali Gosāla's doctrine of the acht developmental stages of man (attha purisabhūmi) was a physical antecedent of der Buddha's doctrine of the acht higher spiritual ranks (attha purisapuggalā).

Buddhaghosa gives the acht stages as follows: manda, khiddā, vīmamsana, ujugata, sekha, samana, jina und panna. DA.i.162 ; siehe auch Hoernle's Uvāsaga-Dasāo, ii. p.24, where pannaka is given for panna. op. J.iv.496-7, mandadasaka,khiddā-dasaka,anna-dasaka,etc.


This seems to indicate a development of the mental und spiritual faculties, side by side mit physical growth, an interaction of body und mind.


There seems to have been a great deal of confusion, even at the time of the compilation of the Nikāyas, as to what were the specific beliefs of the ājīvakas.

There was a group of ājīvakas behind Jetavana. The Mönche saw the ājīvakas perform various Askese, such as squatting on their heels, swinging in the air like bats, scorching themselves mit fünf fires, und they asked der Buddha whether these Askese were of any use. "None whatever," answered der Buddha, und then proceeded to relate the Nanguttha Jātaka (J.i.493f).

The ājīvakas used to be consulted bezüglich auspicious days, dreams, omens, etc. (See, z.B., J.i.287 und MT.190).

There was a settlement of ājīvakas in Anurādhapura, und Pandukābhaya built a residence for them. Mhv.x.102.

Thomas, following Hoernle, thinks that the term (ājīvaka) was wahrscheinlich a name given by opponents, meaning one who followed der Asketenleben for the sake of a livelihood. Op. cit., p.130. But siehe DhA.i.309, where the different kinds of religieux are distinguished as acelaka, ājīvaka, nigantha und tāpasa.

For a detailed account of the ājīvakas siehe Hoernle's Article in ERA. und Barua's paper in the Calcutta University Journal of the Dept. of Letters, vol.ii. Hence we cannot infer that the name which was found as late as the thirteenth century always refers to the followers of Makkhali Gosāla. This point is certainly worth investigating.

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