Bindusar

By Sunil Kumar

Ajivika is one of the nastika schools of Hindu philosophy. It believed that everything in the world is pre-ordained(niyati) and the theory of karma is not true. This is in direct contrast to the Buddhists; Jains and the Hindus; who believe in the cause-effect equation.

At the same time; the Charvakas in ancient India were like contemporary atheists and agnostics; believing in this life only. Founded in the 5th century B.C in Magadha by Makkali Gosala; the Ajivika sect was a rival of the early Buddhists and Jains.

The Jain and Buddhist doctrine of the self has been explained in detail in the other answer; and the Ajivika sect believed in austerity, renunciation and penance just like the Hindus; Jains and Buddhists.

The only major difference here is that they believed in the big hand of niyati dictating everything; and not karma. So; things had to be done because everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is entirely preordained and a function of cosmic principles.

Aparigraha on the other hand is the concept of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness; which Jains consider as a virtue.

Niyativada defined

‘…there is no cause or condition for the defilement of beings…There is no cause or condition for the purification of beings…There is no self-power or other-power, there is no power in humans, no strength or force, no vigour or exertion. All beings…experience the fixed course of pleasure and pain…pleasure and pain have been measured out with a measure limited by the round of birth-and-death, and there is neither increase nor decrease, neither excellence nor inferiority. Just as a ball of string when thrown runs till it is all unraveled, so fools and wise run on and circle round till they make an end of suffering.’

Source: Walshe, Maurice, trans. 1987. The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 94-95.

Nothing was left to chance in Hindu; Buddhist and Jain conceptions of life(i.e karma) However for the Ajivika sect; everything was due to chance(niyati) or absolute determinism.

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