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Published: 26.04.2012
Updated: 17.12.2012
Ājīvika, आजीविक
Sanskrit: आजीविक, ājīvika
Pāli: आजीवक, ājīvaka

was an ancient philosophical and ascetic movement of the Mahajanapada period of the Indian subcontinent.

  • The Ājīvikas were contemporaries of the early Buddhists and historical Jains; the Ājīvika movement may have preceded both of these groups. The Ājīvikas may have been a more loosely-organized group of wandering ascetics (shramanas or sannyasins). Their leader was Makkhali Gosala.
  • The Ajivika movement is long extinct, and what information is known about its followers is primarily from historical evidence left behind in Jain and Buddhist sources. According to these sources, Ajivikas believed that the cycle of reincarnation was determined by a precise and non-personal cosmic principle called niyati "destiny, fate" and was completely independent of the person's actions. They are believed to have been strict fatalists, who did not believe in karma or the possibility of free will.
  • More recent work by scholars suggests that the Ajivika were perhaps misrepresented by Buddhist and Jain sources.
  • Several rock-cut caves belonging to this sect, built during the times of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (r. 273 BC to 232 BC) have been found at Barabar Caves, Jehanabad district, Bihar.


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  1. Ashoka
  2. Bihar
  3. Karma
  4. Niyati
  5. Sanskrit
  6. Ājīvika
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