The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution

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This is the first full-length study of the asrama system, a Hindu construct consisting of four legitimate ways of leading a religious life. Together with the varna (class) system, it forms one of the pillars of Hindu life. Olivelle traces its early history and how it gradually established connections with other Hindu religious institutions to emerge as one of the two central dimensions of the Hindu dharma. It represents a major study not only of Hindu religious history but also of the tradition of Indian hermeneutics.