About the Book :
The lesser known and explored of the two pillars of Hinduism, varna and asrama, asrama is a system of four distinct and legitimate ways of leading a religious life : as a celibate student, a married house-holder, a forest hermit, and a world renouncern In this, the first full-length study of the asrama system. Patrick Olivelle uncovers its origin and traces its subsequent history. He examines in depth its relationship to other institutional and doctrinal aspects of the Brahmanical world and its position within Brahmanical theology, and assesses its significance within the history of Indian religion. Throughout, the author argues that the asrama system is primarily a theological construct and that the system and its history should be carefully distinguished from the socio-religious institutions comprehended by the system and from their respective histories Olivelle pays special attention to how the system was theologically reappropriated in diverse ways at different historical periods through the hermeneutic labors of exegetes and theologians. The Asrama System thus represents a major study not only of Hindu religious history, but also of the tradition of Indian hermeneutics In 1994 The Asrama System was the winner of the American Academy of Religions Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Historical category.