Religious Communities in the Aśokan Inscriptions and Early Literature
This chapter studies the term pāṣaṇḍa and its Middle Indic equivalents in literature from the last centuries BCE through the first centuries of the Common Era. In later Brahminical and non-Brahminical traditions, it is a term that characterizes “heretical” teachings and communities. This chapter shows that in earlier texts, however, pāṣaṇḍa is normally a neutral term for a religious community characterized by a dharma. It then attempts to define the nature of such religious communities in the Aśokan inscriptions. In particular, it addresses the question of whether Aśoka includes “householders” as members of such religious communities or not.
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