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Sutras are important texts in the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions. In the northwestern region of India, during what is commonly regarded as the late-or post-Vedic period (roughly the seventh century BCE through the fifth) and prior to the advent of literacy, there developed a method of instruction for facilitating the memorization and oral transmission of teachings of various branches of knowledge that took the concise form of aphorisms, or a collection of them, known in Sanskrit as sutras (lit. “thread”). By organizing teachings into a more succinct and assimilable structure, the sutra emerged as a new genre valued precisely for its ability to codify and distill the essence of a given subject of study into a systematic sequence of mnemonic pronouncements that made possible ...

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