This essay examines Jayanta Bhaṭṭa’s argument for toleration in his play, the Āgamạdambara, and proposes that it is an argument with contemporary relevance. The merits and relevance of Jayanta’s argument are demonstrated by comparison with arguments for toleration given by John Locke and Pierre Bayle. The aim of such a comparison is twofold. First is to show that Jayanta, like Locke and Bayle, appeals to epistemic humility as justification for toleration and identifies problematic contradictions in the epistemology of his opponents. Second is to forestall dismissal of the relevance of Jayanta’s argument on the basis of the claim that his views are in no way consonant with ours, as he depends on theological assumptions that we do not share and excludes from toleration groups that we would wish to include. That these problems are also present in the arguments of Locke and Bayle yet are no impediment to considering the contemporary relevance of these thinkers indicates that such problems also need not prevent serious consideration of Jayanta’s argument in the present. This essay shows as well that Jayanta’s argument may have relevance for debates concerning toleration in contemporary India, as it indicates a certain conception of toleration, which has in the past been associated primarily with European Modernity, to be indigenous to India.


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pp. 430-443
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